talks except for the two marked otherwise were originally given
for the benefit of Mrs. Pow Panga Vathanakul, a follower of
Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa who had contracted cancer of the bone
marrow and had come to practice meditation at Wat Pa Baan Taad in
order to contend with the pain of the disease and the fact of her
approaching death. All in all, she stayed at Wat Pa Baan Taad for
102 days, from November 9, 1975 to February 19, 1976; during that
period Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa gave 84 impromptu talks for her
benefit, all of which were tape recorded.
her death in September, 1976, one of her friends, M.R. Sermsri
Kasemsri, asked permission of the Venerable Acariya to transcribe
the talks and print them in book form. Seventy-seven of the talks,
plus an additional eight talks given on other occasions, were thus
printed in two massive volumes together totaling more than 1,000
pages. Six talks from these two volumes have already been translated
into English and published in a book entitled Amata Dhamma.
talks in the present collection all deal with the practice of
meditation, and particularly with the development of discernment.
Because their style of presentation is personal and impromptu, they
will probably be best understood if read in conjunction with a more
systematic introduction to the techniques of meditation, such as the
Venerable Acariya's own book, Wisdom Develops Samadhi, which
is available separately or as part of the volume, Forest Dhamma.
title of the present book is taken from a request, frequently made
by the Venerable Acariya to his listeners, that his teachings be
taken to heart, because they come straight from the heart.
Language of the Heart
Venerable Acariya Mun taught that all hearts have the same language.
No matter what one's language or nationality, the heart has nothing
but simple awareness, which is why he said that all hearts have the
same language. When a thought arises, we understand it, but when we
put it into words, it has to become this or that language, so that
we don't really understand one another. The feelings within the
heart, though, are the same for everyone. This is why the Dhamma
fits the heart perfectly, because the Dhamma isn't any particular
language. The Dhamma is the language of the heart. The Dhamma
resides with the heart.
Pleasure and pain reside with the heart. The acts that create
pleasure and pain are thought up by the heart. The heart is what
knows the results that appear as pleasure and pain; and the heart is
burdened with the outcome of its own thoughts. This is why the heart
and the Dhamma fit perfectly. No matter what our language or
nationality, we can all understand the Dhamma because the heart and
the Dhamma are a natural pair.
heart forms the core within the body. It's the core, the substance,
the primary essence within the body. It's the basic foundation. The
conditions that arise from the mind, such as thought-formations,
appear and vanish, again and again. Here I'm referring to the
rippling of the mind. When the mind ripples, that's the formation of
a thought. Labels, which deal with conjecturing, memorizing, and
recognizing, are termed saρρa. 'Long' thoughts are saρρa;
short thoughts are sankhara. In other words, when a thought
forms 'blip' that's a sankhara. Saρρa refers to
labeling and recognizing. Viρρana refers to the act of taking
note when anything external comes and makes contact with the senses,
as when visible forms make contact with the eye and cognition
results. All of these things are constantly arising and vanishing of
their own accord, and so the Buddha called them khandhas.
Each 'heap' or 'group' is called a khandha. These five heaps
of khandhas are constantly arising and vanishing all the
arahants have these same conditions just like ordinary people
everywhere the only difference being that the arahants'
khandhas are khandhas pure and simple, without any
defilements giving them orders, making them do this or think that.
Instead, their khandhas think out of their own free nature,
with nothing forcing them to think this or that, unlike the minds of
ordinary people in general.
a comparison, the khandhas of ordinary people are like
prisoners, constantly being ordered about. Their various thoughts,
labels, assumptions, and interpretations have something that orders
and forces them to appear, making them think, assume, and interpret
in this way or that. In other words, they have defilements as their
boss, their leader, ordering them to appear.
Arahants, however, don't. When a thought forms, it simply forms.
Once it forms, it simply disappears. There's no seed to continue it,
no seed to weigh the mind down, because there's nothing to force it,
unlike the khandhas governed by defilements or under the
leadership of defilements. This is where the difference lies.
their basic nature is the same: All the khandhas we have
mentioned are inconstant (aniccam). In other words,
instability and changeability are a regular part of their nature,
beginning with the rupa khandha, our body, and the vedana
khandha, feelings of pleasure, pain, and indifference. These
things appear and vanish, again and again. Saρρa, sankhara,
and viρρana are also always in a state of appearing and
vanishing as a normal part of their nature.
for actual awareness which forms the basis of our knowledge of the
various things that arise and vanish that doesn't vanish.
We can say that the mind can't vanish. We can say that the mind
can't arise. A mind that has been purified thus has no more problems
concerning the birth and death of the body and the khandhas;
and thus there is no more birth here and there, appearing in crude
forms such as individuals or as living beings, for those whose minds
have been purified.
those whose minds are not purified: They are the ones who take birth
and die, setting their sights on cemeteries without end, all because
of this undying mind.
why the Lord Buddha taught the world, and in particular the world of
human beings, who know right and wrong, good and evil; who know how
to foster the one and remedy the other; who understand the language
of the Dhamma he taught. This is why he taught the human world above
and beyond the other worlds: so that we could try to remedy the
things that are harmful and detrimental, removing them from our
thoughts, words, and deeds; try to nourish and foster whatever
goodness we might already have, and give rise to whatever goodness
we don't yet have.
taught us to foster and develop the goodness we already have so as
to nourish the heart, giving it refreshment and well-being, giving
it a standard of quality, or goodness, so that when it leaves its
present body to head for whatever place or level of being, this mind
that has been constantly nourished with goodness will be a good
mind. Wherever it fares, it will fare well. Wherever it takes birth,
it will be born well. Wherever it lives, it will live well. It will
keep on experiencing well-being and happiness until it gains the
capacity, the potential, the accumulation of merit it has developed
progressively from the past into the present in other words,
yesterday is today's past, today is tomorrow's past, all of which
are days in which we have fostered and developed goodness step by
step to the point where the mind has the firm strength and
ability, from the supporting power of this goodness, that enables it
to pass over and gain release.
mind has no more birth, not even in the most quiet or refined levels
of being that contain any latent traces of conventional reality (sammati)
namely, birth and death as we currently experience it. Such a mind
goes completely beyond all such things. Here I'm referring to the
minds of the Buddhas and of the arahants.
a story about Ven. Vangisa that has a bearing on this. Ven. Vangisa,
when he was a layman, was very talented in divining the level of
being in which the mind of a dead person was reborn no matter who
the person was. You couldn't quite say he was a fortuneteller.
Actually he was more a master of psychic skills. When anyone died,
he would take that person's skull and knock on it knock! knock!
knock! focus his mind, and then know that this person was reborn
there, that person was reborn here. If the person was reborn in hell
or in heaven, as a common animal or a hungry ghost, he could tell in
every case, without any hesitation. All he needed was to knock on
heard his friends say that the Buddha was many times more talented
than this, he wanted to expand on his knowledge. So he went to the
Buddha's presence to ask for further training in this science. When
he reached the Buddha, the Buddha gave him the skull of an arahant
to knock on.
right, see if you can tell where he was reborn.'
Vangisa knocked on the skull and listened.
knocked again and listened.
thought for a moment.
focused his mind.
couldn't see where the owner of the skull was reborn. At his wit's
end, he confessed frankly that he didn't know where the arahant was
first, Ven. Vangisa had thought himself talented and smart, and had
planned to challenge the Buddha before asking for further training.
But when he reached the Buddha, the Buddha gave him the skull of an
arahant to knock on and right there he was stymied. So now he
genuinely wanted further training. Once he had further training,
he'd really be something special. This being the way things stood,
he asked to study with the Buddha. So the Buddha taught him the
science, taught him the method in other words, the science of the
Dhamma. Ven. Vangisa practiced and practiced until finally he
attained arahantship. From then on he was no longer interested in
knocking on anyone's skull except for his own. Once he had known
clearly, that was the end of the matter. This is called 'knocking on
the right skull.'
the Buddha had brought up the topic of the mind that doesn't
experience rebirth the skull of one whose mind was purified no
matter how many times Ven. Vangisa knocked on it, he couldn't know
where the mind was reborn, even though he had been very talented
before, for the place of a pure mind's rebirth cannot be found.
same was true in the case of Ven. Godhika: This story should serve
as quite some food for thought. Ven. Godhika went to practice
meditation, made progress step by step, but then regressed. They say
this happened six times. After the seventh time, he took a razor to
slash his throat he was so depressed but then came to his
senses, contemplated the Dhamma, and became an arahant at the last
minute. That's the story in brief. When he died, Mara's hordes
searched for his spirit. To put it simply, they stirred up a storm,
but couldn't tell where he had been reborn.
Lord Buddha said, 'No matter how much you dig or search or
investigate to find the spirit of our son, Godhika, who has
completely finished his task, you won't be able to find it even if
you turn the world upside down because such a task lies beyond the
scope of conventional reality.' How could they possibly find it?
It's beyond the capacity of people with defilements to know the
power of an arahant's mind.
realm of convention, there is no one who can trace the path of an
arahant's mind, because an arahant lies beyond convention, even
though his is a mind just the same. Think about it: Even our
stumbling and crawling mind, when it is continually cleansed without
stop, without ceasing, without letting perseverance lag, will
gradually become more and more refined until it reaches the limit of
refinement. Then the refinement will disappear because refinement
is a matter of conventional reality leaving a nature of solid
gold, or solid Dhamma, called a pure mind. We too will then have no
more problems, just like the arahants, because our mind will have
become a superlative mind, just like the minds of those who have
already gained release.
minds of this sort are the same, with no distinction between women
and men, which is simply a matter of sex or convention. With the
mind, there is no distinction between women and men, and thus both
women and men have the same capacity in the area of the Dhamma. Both
are capable of attaining the various levels of Dhamma all the way to
release. There are no restrictions that can be imposed in this area.
All that is needed is that we develop enough ability and potential,
and then we can all go beyond.
this reason, we should all make an effort to train our hearts and
minds. At the very least, we should get the mind to attain stillness
and peace with any of the meditation themes that can lull it into a
state of calm, giving rise to peace and well-being within it. For
example, mindfulness of breathing, which is one of the primary
themes in meditation circles, seems to suit the temperaments of more
people than any other theme. But whatever the theme, take it as a
governing principle, a refuge, a mainstay for the mind, putting it
into practice within your own mind so as to attain rest and peace.
the mind begins to settle down, we will begin to see its essential
nature and worth. We will begin to see what the heart is and how it
is. In other words, when the mind gathers all of its currents into a
single point, as simple awareness within itself, this is what is
called the 'mind' (citta). The gathering in of the mind occurs
on different levels, corresponding to the mind's ability and to the
different stages of its refinement. Even if the mind is still on a
crude level, we can nevertheless know it when it gathers inwardly.
When the mind becomes more and more refined, we will know its
refinement 'This mind is refined... This mind is radiant... This
mind is extremely still... This mind is something extremely amazing'
more and more, step by step, this very same mind!
cleansing and training the mind for the sake of stillness; in
investigating, probing, and solving the problems of the mind with
discernment (paρρa) which is the way of making the mind
progress, or of enabling us to reach the truth of the mind, step by
step, through the means already mentioned no matter how crude the
mind may be, don't worry about it. If we get down to making the
effort and persevere continually with what diligence and persistence
we have, that crudeness will gradually fade away and vanish.
Refinement will gradually appear through our own actions or our own
striving until we are able to go beyond and gain release by slashing
the defilements to bits. This holds true for all of us, men and
while we aren't yet able to do so, we shouldn't be anxious. All that
is asked is that we make the mind principled so that it can be a
refuge and a mainstay for itself. As for this body, we've been
relying on it ever since the day we were born. This is something we
all can know. We've made it live, lie down, urinate, defecate, work,
make a living. We've used it, and it has used us. We order it
around, and it orders us around. For instance, we've made it work,
and it has made us suffer with aches here and pains there, so that
we have to search for medicine to treat it. It's the one that hurts,
and it's the one that searches for medicine. It's the one that
provides the means. And so we keep supporting each other back and
forth in this way.
hard to tell who is in charge, the body or us. We can order it
around part of the time, but it orders us around all the time.
Illness, hunger, thirst, sleepiness: These are all nothing but a
heap of suffering and stress in which the body orders us around, and
orders us from every side. We can order it around only a little bit,
so when the time is right for us to give the orders, we should make
to work. As long as the body is functioning normally, then no matter
how much or how heavy the work, get right to it. But if the body
isn't functioning normally, if you're ill, you need to be conscious
of what it can take. As for the mind, though, keep up the effort
within, unflaggingly, because it's your essential duty.
depended on the body for a long time. Now that it's wearing down,
know that it's wearing down which parts still work, which parts no
longer work. You're the one in charge and you know it full well, so
make whatever compromises you should.
for the heart, which isn't ill along with the body, it should step
up its efforts within, so that it won't lack the benefits it should
gain. Make the mind have standards and be principled principled in
its living, principled in its dying. Wherever it's born, make it
have good principles and satisfactory standards. What they call
'merit' (puρρa) won't betray your hopes or expectations. It
will provide you with satisfactory circumstances at all times, in
keeping with the fact that you've accumulated the merit the
well-being that all the world wants and of which no one has
enough. In other words, what the world wants is well-being, whatever
the sort, and in particular the well-being of the mind that will
arise step by step from having done things, such as meditation,
which are noble and good.
the well-being that forms a core or an important essence within the
heart. We should strive, then, while the body is still functioning,
for when life comes to an end, nothing more can be done. No matter
how little or how much we have accomplished, we must stop at that
point. We stop our work, put it aside, and then reap its rewards
there, in the next life. Whatever we should be capable of doing, we
do. If we can go beyond or gain release, that's the end of every
problem. There will then be nothing to involve us in any turmoil.
I've been talking about the mind because the mind is the primary
issue. That which will make us fare well or badly, meet with
pleasure or pain, is nothing else but the mind.
what they call bad kamma, it lies within the mind that has
made it. Whether or not you can remember, these seeds which lie
within the heart can't be prevented from bearing fruit, because
they are rooted in the mind. You have to accept your kamma.
Don't find fault with it. Once it's done, it's done, so how can you
find fault with it? The hand writes and so the hand must erase. You
have to accept it like a good sport. This is the way it is with
kamma until you can gain release which will be the end of the
Marvel of the Dhamma
who practice the Dhamma will begin to know the Dhamma or to gain a
feel for the Dhamma in the area of meditation more markedly than in
other areas, and more extensively. For example, the gratification
that comes from being generous is moving in one way, the
gratification that comes from maintaining the precepts is moving in
another way, the feelings of gratification that come from the
different forms of goodness are moving in their own separate ways.
This is called finding gratification in skillfulness.
of these feelings of gratification converge in the practice of
meditation. We begin to feel moved from the moment the mind begins
to grow still, when the heart gathers its currents together to stand
solely on its own. Even though we may not yet obtain a great deal of
stillness from the inward gathering of the mind, we still find
ourselves gratified within, in a way we can clearly sense. If the
mind or the Dhamma were a material object, there wouldn't be anyone
in the world who wouldn't respect the religion, because the
goodness, the well-being, and the marvels that arise from the
religion and from the practicing in line with the teachings of the
religion are things desired the world over.
Goodness, well-being, marvels: These are things the world has always
desired from time immemorial with a desire that has never lost its
taste and they are things that will always be desired until the
world loses its meaning, or until people become extinct, having no
more sense of good and evil. That's when the world will no longer
aspire for these great blessings. The well-being that comes from the
marvels the Dhamma in the area of its results is something to
which all living beings aspire, simply that their abilities differ,
so that some attain their aspirations, while others don't.
Dhamma can't be displayed for the world to perceive with its senses
of sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch in the way other things
can. Even though there may be other immaterial phenomena similar to
the Dhamma such as smells still they aren't like the true Dhamma
that is touched by the hearts of those who have practiced it. If the
Dhamma could be displayed like material objects, there is no doubt
but that the human world would have to respect the religion for the
sake of that Dhamma. This is because the Dhamma is something more
marvelous than anything else. In all the three levels of existence,
there is no greater marvel than in the Dhamma.
Dhamma can appear as a marvel, conspicuous and clear in the mind.
The mind is what knows it and only the mind. It can't be displayed
in general like material objects, as when we take things out to
admire or to show off to others. The Dhamma can't possibly be
displayed like material objects. This is what makes the world lack
interest and lack the things that could be hoped from the Dhamma
in a way that is really a shame.
those who want the marvel of the Dhamma don't know what the marvel
is, or what the profundity of the Dhamma is, because the mind has
never had contact with that profundity. The eye has never had
contact with the marvel. The ear has never obtained any marvel from
the current of the Dhamma, because the Dhamma can't be displayed as
a current of sound as other things can. This is one obstacle that
prevents people from becoming moved by the Dhamma, that prevents
them from fully believing and fully entrusting themselves to the
Dhamma in a way consistent with the world's long-felt hunger for
well-being and prosperity.
the Buddhas who has gained Awakening and taught the Dhamma to the
world has had to reflect to the full extent of his intelligence and
ability on the myriad ways of teaching the Dhamma to the world so
that the world could see it as a marvel, inasmuch as the Dhamma
can't be put in shop windows or in public places. This is because
the true Dhamma lies in the heart and reveals itself only in words
and deeds, which doesn't excite a gratifying sense of absorption in
the same way as touching the Dhamma directly with the heart.
there is no way to display the Dhamma directly, the Buddhas display
it indirectly through teaching. They point out the causes the
Dhamma of conduct and practices leading to the Dhamma of results at
this or that point or this or that level; and at the same time they
proclaim the results the excellence, the marvels of the stages and
levels of the Dhamma that can be touched with the heart, all the way
to the highest marvel, vimutti, the mental release called
nibbana within the heart.
Buddha has to devise strategies in teaching the Dhamma so as to
bring that marvel out to the world by using various modes of speech
and conduct for example, describing the Dhamma and showing the
conduct of the Dhamma as being like this and that but the actual
Dhamma can't be shown. It is something known exclusively in the
heart, in the way in which each Buddha and each arahant possesses
this marvel. None of the Buddhas, none of the arahants who possess
this marvel are in any way deficient in this regard.
marvel lies in their hearts simply that they can't take the marvel
that appears there and display it in the full measure of its wonder.
Thus they devise strategies for displaying it in their actions,
which are simply attributes of the Dhamma, not the actual Dhamma
itself. For instance, the doctrine they teach in the texts is simply
an attribute of the Dhamma. Their act of teaching is also just an
attribute of the Dhamma. The actual Dhamma is when a meditator or a
person who listens to their teachings about the Dhamma follows the
Dhamma in practice and touches it stage by stage within his or her
own heart. This is called beginning to make contact with the actual
Dhamma, step by step. However much contact is made, it gives a sense
of gratification felt exclusively within the heart of the person who
has gained that contact through his or her own practice.
comes to ingenuity in teaching, no one excels the Buddhas. Even so,
they reveal only what they see as appropriate for humanity. They
can't reveal the actual Dhamma for example, by taking out the true
marvel in their hearts and unfolding it for the world to see,
saying, 'This is the marvel of the Tathagata, of each Buddha. Do you
see it?' This can't be done, for here we're talking about the marvel
of the purity of a heart that was previously swamped with defilement
like a heap of assorted excrement, but now has become a pure,
unsullied nature, or a pure, amazing nature because of the practice
of constantly and relentlessly cleansing it. They can't show that
Dhamma to the world, saying, 'Do you see this? Look at it. Look at
it. Feast your eyes till they're full and then strive to make this
treasure your own!' So instead, they teach by using various
strategies for those who practice, describing the path in full
detail, in terms both of causes and of results.
they bring out to show is simply the current of their voices, the
breath of their mouths. That's what they bring out to speak, simply
the breath of their mouths. They can't bring out the real thing. For
example, when they say, 'It's marvelous like this,' it's just sound.
The marvelous nature itself can't be brought out. All they can bring
out is the action of saying, 'That nature is marvelous,' so that we
can speculate for ourselves as to what that marvel is like. Even
though this doesn't remove our doubts, it's better than if we had
never heard about it at all.
basic principle in making us come to know and see the marvel of the
Dhamma is that first we have to speculate and then we follow with
practice. This qualifies as following the principles of the Dhamma
the Buddha taught, and this is fitting and proper. No matter what
the difficulties and hardships encountered in following the path, we
shouldn't let them form barriers to our progress, because this is
where the path lies. There are no other byways that can take us
easily to the goal. If our practice is difficult, we have to stick
with it. If it's painful, we have to bear it, because it's a duty we
have to perform, a burden we have to carry while working so as to
attain our aims.
Dhamma of a pure mind is like this: The mind is the Dhamma, the
Dhamma is the mind. We call it a mind only as long as it is still
with the body and khandhas. Only then can we call it a pure
mind, the mind of a Buddha, or the mind of an arahant. After it
passes from the body and khandhas, there is no conventional
reality to which it can be compared, and so we can't call it
anything at all.
matter how marvelous that nature, no matter how much it may be ours,
there is no possible way we can use conventional realities to
describe it or to make comparisons, because that Dhamma, that realm
of release, has no conventions against which to measure things or
make comparisons. It's the same as if we were in outer space: Which
way is north, which way is south, we don't know. If we're on Earth,
we can say 'east,' 'west,' 'north,' and 'south' because there are
things that we can observe and compare so as to tell which direction
lies which way. We take the Earth as our standard. 'High' and 'low'
depend on the Earth as their frame of reference. How much higher
than this, lower than this, north of this, south of this: These
things we can say.
we're out in outer space, there is no standard by which we can
measure things, and so we can't say. Or as when we go up in an
airplane: We can't tell how fast or how slow we're going. When we
pass a cloud, we can tell that we're going fast, but if we depend
simply on our eyesight, we're sure to think that the speed of the
airplane is nowhere near the speed of a car. We can clearly see how
deceptive our eyesight is in just this way. When we ride in a car,
the trees on both sides of the road look as if they were falling in
together down on the road behind us. Actually, they stay their
separate selves. It's simply that the car runs past them. Since
there are things that we sense, that lie close enough for
comparison, it seems as if the car were going really fast.
the airplane, there's nothing to make comparisons with, so it looks
as if the plane were dawdling along, as if it were going slower than
a car, even though it's actually many times faster.
how it is when we compare the mind of an ordinary run-of-the-mill
person with the mind of the Buddha. Whatever the Buddha says is
good and excellent, we ordinary people tend to say that it's not.
Whatever we like, no matter how vile, we say that it's good. We
don't admit the truth, in the same way as thinking that a car goes
faster than an airplane.
practice of attending to the mind is something very important. Try
to develop mindfulness (sati) and discernment so that they
can keep up with the things that come and entangle the mind. By and
large, the heart itself is the instigator, creating trouble
continually, relentlessly. We then fall for the preoccupations the
heart turns out and this makes us agitated, upset, and saddened,
all because of the thoughts formed by the heart.
come from the heart itself, and the heart itself is what falls for
them, saying that this is this, and that is that, even though the
things it names 'this' and 'that' merely exist in line with their
nature. They have no meaning in and of themselves, that they are
like ''this' or 'that.' The mind simply gives them meanings, and
then falls for its own meanings, making itself glad or sad over
those things without end. Thus the stress and suffering that result
from thought-formations have no end, no point of resolution, just as
if we were floating adrift in the middle of the sea waiting to
breathe our last breath.
Buddhas all reached Awakening here in this human world because the
human world is rich in the Noble Truths. It's where they are plain
to see. The Noble Truth of stress (dukkha) lies in the human
body. Human beings know about stress because they're smarter than
common animals. The Noble Truth of the origin of stress: This lies
in the human heart. The Noble Truth of the path the path of
practice to cure defilement (kilesa), craving (tanha),
and mental effluents (asava), which are the things that
produce stress: This, human beings also know. What is the path? To
put it briefly: virtue, concentration, and discernment. These things
human beings know and can put into practice. The Noble Truth of the
cessation of stress: This, human beings also know. No matter which
of these truths, all human beings know them although they may not
know how to behave toward them or take interest in behaving in line
with them, in which case there is no way the Dhamma can help them at
Buddhas thus taught the Dhamma in the human world, because the human
world lies in the center of all the levels of existence. We have
been born in the center of existence, in the midst of the religion.
We should conform correctly to the central point of the religion, so
as to comprehend the religion's teachings that lie in the center of
superlative Dhamma lies right here. It doesn't lie anywhere else.
The mind is what can reach the Dhamma. The mind is what knows all
dhammas. The affairs of the Dhamma, then, do not lie beyond the
mind, which is a fitting vessel for them. Good, evil, pleasure,
pain: The mind knows these things before anything else knows them,
so we should develop mindfulness and discernment to be resourceful,
to keep up with the events that are always becoming involved with
the mind in the course of each day.
we're intent on investigating the origin of stress, which fans out
from our various thought-formations, we will find that it arises
without stop. It arises right here in the mind. It's fashioned right
here. Even though we try to make it quiet, it won't be still. Why?
Because of the 'unquietness', the thoughts with which the mind
disturbs itself, which it forms and sends out towards its
preoccupations (arammana) all the time. Once the mind sends
out its thoughts, it then gathers in stress for itself. It keeps at
it, in and out like this. What goes out is the origin of stress,
and what comes back in is stress. In other words, thoughts form
and go out as the origin of stress, and when the results come back
to the heart, they're stressful. These things are constantly being
manufactured like this all the time.
want the mind to have even just a little bit of calm, we really have
to force it; and even then these things still manage to drive the
mind into forming thoughts whenever we let down our guard. This is
how it is with the origin of stress, which is constantly producing
suffering. It lies in the heart and is always arising. For this
reason, we must use mindfulness and discernment to diagnose and
remedy the origin of stress, to keep an eye out for it, and to snuff
it out right there, without being negligent. Wherever we sit or
stand whatever our activity we keep watch over this point, with
mindfulness alert to it, and discernment unraveling it so as to know
it constantly for what it truly is.
those who practice to remove defilement practice in this way. In
particular, those who are ordained practice by going into the forest
to look for a place conducive to their striving in order to wipe out
this very enemy. Even when they stay in inhabited areas, or wherever
they go, wherever they stay, they keep their attention focused
continually, step by step, on the persistent effort to remove and
demolish the origin of stress, which is a splinter, a thorn in the
heart. Such people are bound to develop more and more ease and
well-being, step by step, in proportion to the persistence of their
see clearly when the mind is still and settles down:
Thought-formations are still, or don't exist. Turmoil and
disturbances don't occur. The stress that would otherwise result
doesn't appear. When the mind is quiet, stress is also quiet. When
thought-formations are quiet, the origin of stress is also quiet.
Stress is also quiet. All that remains at that moment is a feeling
of peace and ease.
between the mind and the defilements causing stress is like this. We
have to keep fighting with persistence. We have to use mindfulness
and discernment, conviction and persistence to contend with the war
that disturbs and ravages the mind, making it stagger and reel
within. The disturbances will then gradually be suppressed. Even
when there is only a moment of quiet, we will come to see the harm
of the thought-formations that are constantly disturbing us. At the
same time, we will see the benefits of mental stillness that it's
a genuine pleasure. Whether there is a lot of stillness or a little,
pleasure arises in proportion to the foundation of stillness or the
strength of the stillness, which in the texts is called samadhi,
centered and still is called a mind in concentration, or a mind
gathered in concentration. This is what genuine concentration is
like inside the heart. The names of the various stages of
concentration are everywhere, but actual concentration is inside the
heart. The heart is what gives rise to concentration. It produces
it, makes it on its own. When concentration is still, the mind
experiences cool respite and pleasure. It has its own foundation set
firmly and solidly within.
if we were under an eave or under the cooling shade of a tree. We're
comfortable when it rains, we're comfortable when the sun is out,
because we don't have to be exposed to the sun and rain. The same
holds true with a mind that has an inner foundation of stillness:
It's not affected by this preoccupation or that, which would
otherwise disturb and entangle it repeatedly, without respite. This
is because stillness is the heart's dwelling 'concentration,'
which is one level of home for the heart.
Discernment (paρρa) is ingenuity, sound judgment, evaluating
causes and effects within and without; above, below, and in between
inside the body all the way to the currents of the mind that
send out thoughts from various angles. Mindfulness and discernment
keep track of these things, investigating and evaluating them so as
to know causes and effects in terms of the heart's
thought-formations, or in terms of the nature of sankhara
within us, until we see the truth of each of these things.
Don't go investigating these things off target, by being clever with
labels and interpretations that go against the truth because
in the investigation of phenomena, we investigate in line with the
truth. We don't resist the truth, for that would simply
enhance the defilements causing stress at the very moment we
think we're investigating phenomena so as to remove them.
we have already experienced. As for old age, we've been growing old
from the day of our birth, older and older, step by step. Whatever
our age, that's how long we've been growing old, until we reach the
end of life. When we're old to the nth degree, we fall apart. In
other words, we've been growing old from the moment of birth older
by the day, the month, the year older and older continually. We
call it 'growing up', but actually it's growing old.
Investigate it for what it really is. This is the great highway
the way of nature. Don't resist it. For example, the body is
growing old, but we don't want it to be old. We want it always to be
young. This is called resisting the truth which is stress. Even
when we try to resist it, we don't get anywhere. What do we hope to
gain by resisting it and creating stress for ourselves? Actually, we
gain nothing but the stress that comes from resisting the truth.
discernment to investigate just like this. Whenever pain arises in
any part of the body, if we have medicine to treat it, then we treat
it. When the medicine can take care of it, the body recovers. When
the medicine can't, it dies. It goes on its own. There's no need for
us to force it not to die, or to stay alive for so-and-so many
years, for that would be an absurdity. Even if we forced it, it
wouldn't stay. We wouldn't get any results and would just be wearing
ourselves out in vain. The body has to follow its own natural
investigate in line with its truth this way, we can be at our
ease. Wherever there's pain, keep aware of it continually in
line with its truth. Whether it hurts a lot or a little, keep aware
of its manifestations until it reaches the ultimate point of pain
the death of the body and that's as far as it goes.
in line with its truth. Don't resist it. Don't set up any
desires, because the setting up of desire is a deficiency, a
hunger. And hunger, no matter when or what the sort, is pain: Hunger
for sleep is pain, hunger for food is pain, hunger for water is
pain. When was it ever a good thing?
hunger, the desires that arise, wanting things to be like this,
wanting them to be like that: These are all nothing but
disturbances, issues that give rise to stress and pain. This is
why the Buddha doesn't have us resist the truth.
your discernment to investigate, to contemplate in line with the
natural principles of things as they already are. This is
called discernment that doesn't fly in the face of truth and the
heart can then be at ease.
study the four 'Noble Truths' here in our body. In other words, we
study birth, aging, illness, and death, all of which lie in this
single heap of elements (dhatu) without ever leaving it.
Birth is an affair of these elements. Growing up or growing old,
it's old right here. When there's illness, it manages to be ill
right here, in one part or another. When death comes, it dies right
here. So we have to study right here where else would we study? We
have to study and know the things that involve us directly before we
study anything else. We have to study them comprehensively and to
completion studying our own birth, our aging, our illness and
pain, and completing our study of our own death. That's when
we'll be wise wise to all the events around us.
who know the Dhamma through practicing so that they are wise to the
events that occur to themselves, do not flinch in the face of any
of the conventional realities of the world at all. This is how
it is when we study the Dhamma, when we know and see the Dhamma in
the area of the heart in other words, when we know rightly and
well. 'Mindfulness and discernment that are wise all around
themselves' are wise in this way, not wise simply from being able
to remember. They have to be wise in curing doubt, in curing the
recalcitrance of the heart, as well as in curing their own
attachments and false assumptions so as to leave only a nature that
is pure and simple. That's when we'll be really at ease, really
khandhas be khandhas pure and simple in their own way,
without our messing with them, without our struggling with them for
power, without our forcing or coercing them to be like this or like
that. The khandhas are then khandhas, the mind is then
the mind, each with its own separate reality, each not infringing on
the others as it used to. Each performs its own duties. This is
called khandhas pure and simple, the mind pure and simple,
without any conventional realities adulterating them. What knows is
what knows, the elements are elements, the khandhas are
Whatever things may break apart, let them break apart. We have
already known them clearly with our discernment. We have no doubts.
We've known them in advance, even before they die, so when death
comes, what doubts can we have? especially now that they display
the truth of their nature for us to see clearly. This is called
studying the Dhamma, practicing the Dhamma. To study and practice
this way is to follow the same way that sages have practiced and
known before us.
these conditions are matters of conventional reality matters of
the elements, the khandhas, or the sense media (ayatana).
The four khandhas, the five khandhas, whatever, are
individual conditions, individual conditions that are separated in
line with conventions. Discernment is also a condition; and
mindfulness, another condition conditions of the heart but
they're Dhamma, means of curing the mind that is clouded and
obscured, means of washing away the things that cloud and obscure
it, until radiance appears through the power of the discernment that
cleanses the heart. Once the heart is radiant, in the next step
it becomes pure.
it pure? Because all impurities have fallen away from it. The
various misconstruings that are an affair of defilement are all gone
from the heart, so the heart is pure. This pure heart means that we
have completed our study of ourselves, in line with the statement of
vusitam brahmacariyam katam karaniyam:
task of the religion is done, the holy life is complete, there is no
further task to be done.'
the tasks we have had to do abandoning and striving are done to
completion, we know right here, because delusion lay right here in
the heart. We study and practice simply to cure our own delusion.
Once we know right here, and delusion is gone, what else is there to
know? for beyond this there is nothing further to know. What else
is there for us to be deluded about? We're no longer deluded,
because we know fully all around.
very state of mind: When at the beginning I referred to the
superlative Dhamma, the marvelous Dhamma, I was referring to this
very state of mind, this very Dhamma but it's something known
exclusively within itself, and exists only within itself. It's
marvelous this we know within our own mind. It's superlative
this we also know within our own mind. We can't take it out or
unfurl it like other things for other people to see.
you want to have any Noble Treasures to show for yourself, practice.
Remove all those dirty stains from the heart, and the superlative
things I have mentioned will appear by their own nature in other
words, they will appear in the mind.
called completing your study of the Dhamma; and your study of the
world is completed right here. The 'world' means the world of
elements, the world of the khandhas that lie right here with
each of us, which are more important than the worlds of elements and
khandhas belonging to other people, because this world of
elements and khandhas lies with us and has been weighing on
the heart all along.
we have studied the Dhamma to the attainment of release, that's all
there is to study. We've studied the world to completion and
studied the Dhamma in full. Our doubts are gone, and there is
nothing that will ever make us doubt again. As the Buddha exclaimed,
'When dhammas become apparent to the Brahman, earnest and absorbed,
doubt comes to an end because the conditions, the factors for
continued being and birth, come to an end.'
have reached this level, we can live wherever we like. The war is
ended the war between the mind and defilement, or the war between
Dhamma and defilement, is over. This is where we dismantle being and
birth. This is where we dismantle the heap of suffering in the
round of rebirth right here in the heart. Since the heart is
the wanderer through the cycle of rebirth, we have to dismantle
things right here, to know them right here. Once we know, that's the
end of all problems right here.
whole wide world there are no problems. The only problem was the
issue of the heart that was deluded about itself and about the
things that became involved with it. Now that it has completely
rectified the way it is involved with things, there is nothing left
and that's the end of the problem.
this point on, there are no more problems to trouble the heart until
the day of its total nibbana. This is how the Dhamma is
studied to completion. The world the world of elements and
khandhas is studied to completion right here.
striving in order to see the marvel described at the beginning,
which was described in line with the truth with no aspect to invite
Buddha and the Noble Disciples have Dhamma filling their hearts to
the brim. You are a disciple of the Tathagata, with a mind that can
be made to show its marvelousness through the practice of making it
pure, just like the Buddha and the Noble Disciples. So try to make
it still and radiant, because the heart has long lain buried in the
mud. As soon as you can see the harm of the mud and grow tired of
it, you should urgently wake up, take notice, and exert yourself
till you can manage to make your way free. Nibbana is holding
its hand out, waiting for you. Aren't you going to come out?
Rebelliousness is simply distraction. The end of rebelliousness is
stillness. When the heart is still, it's at ease. If it's not still,
it's as hot as fire. Wherever you are, everything is hot and
troubled. Once it is still, then it's cool and peaceful wherever you
are cool right here in the heart. So make the heart cool with the
practice, because the heat and trouble lie with the heart. The heat
of fire is one thing, but the heat of a troubled heart is hotter
than fire. Try to put out the fires of defilement, craving, and
mental effluents burning here in the heart, so that only the
phenomenon of genuine Dhamma remains. Then you will be cool and at
peace, everywhere and always.
I'll ask to stop here.
Prison World vs. the World Outside
mind, if we were to make a comparison with the world, is a perpetual
prisoner, like a person born in jail who lives in jail, behind bars,
with no chance to get out to see the outside world someone who has
grown from childhood to adulthood entirely in a prison cell and so
doesn't know what there is outside; someone who has seen pleasure
and pain only in the prison and has never been out to see what kind
of pleasure, comfort, and freedom they have in the outside world. We
have no way of knowing what kind of happiness and enjoyment they
have there in the outside world, how they come and go, how they
live, because we are kept in prison from the day we are born until
the day we die. This is a comparison, an analogy.
only the pleasure and pain that the prison has to offer, with
nothing special, nothing obtained from the outside world so that
when it enters the prison we could see that, 'This is something
different from the prison world this is from the outside world,
outside the prison;' so that we could make comparisons and know
that, 'This is like this, that is like that; this is better than
that, that is better than this.' There is nothing but the affairs of
the prison. However much the pleasure and pain, however great the
deprivations, the difficulties, the oppression and coercion, that's
simply the way it's been all along from the very beginning and so
we don't know where to look for a way out or how to free ourselves.
We don't even know where the outside world is, because we have seen
only the inside world: the prison where we have always been locked
away, oppressed, starved, beaten, tortured, deprived. Even our
bedding, food, belongings everything of every sort is like that
of a prisoner in jail. And yet people like this can still live this
way because they have never seen enough of the outside world to be
able to make comparisons as to which is better, which is more
pleasant, in order to feel inclined to search for a way out to the
controlled by the power of defilement and mental effluents is like
this. It has been imprisoned by various kinds of defilement for
aeons and aeons. For example, in our present lifetime, the
defilements that hold sway over the hearts of living beings have
been with us since the day of our birth. They have kept us in
continual custody, never giving us any freedom within ourselves at
all. For this reason, we have difficulty imagining what sort of
pleasure there could be above and beyond the way things are, just
like a person who was born and has always lived in a prison.
sort of world is the world outside? Is it a good place to visit? A
good place to live? The Dhamma proclaims it loud and clear, but
hardly anyone is interested. Still, there are fortunately some
places where some people are interested. In places where no
one proclaims it, where no one speaks of what the outside world a
mind with Dhamma in charge is like, no one knows what the
teachings of the religion are like. No one knows what the happiness
that comes from the Dhamma is like. Such people are so surrounded by
darkness, so completely drowned in attachment, that not even a
single limb shows above the surface, because there is no religion to
pull them out. It's as if the outside world didn't exist. They have
nothing but the prison, the defilements, holding the heart in
custody. Born in this world, they have only the prison as their
place to live and to die.
that has never known what could give it greater pleasure, comfort,
and freedom than it has at present, if we were to make a different
comparison, is like a duck playing in a mud puddle under a shanty.
It keeps playing there: splat, splat, splat, splat, splat. No matter
how dirty or filthy it is, it's content to play because it has never
seen the water of the ocean, of a river, of a lake or a pond large
enough for it to swim and immerse its entire body with ease. It has
known only the mud puddle that lies stagnant under the shanty, into
which things in the shanty get washed down. And so it plays there,
thinking it's fun, swimming happily in its way why? Because it has
never seen water wider or deeper than that, enough to give it more
enjoyment in coming and going or swimming around than it can find in
the mud puddle under the shanty.
ducks that live along broad, deep canals, they're very different
from the duck under the shanty. They really enjoy themselves along
rivers, lakes, canals, and ponds. Wherever their owner herds them,
there they go crossing back and forth over highways and byways,
spreading in flocks of hundreds and thousands. Even ducks like these
have their happiness.
they stand for?
stand for the mind. A mind that has never seen the pleasure, the
comfort, the enjoyment that comes from the Dhamma is like the duck
playing in the mud puddle under the shanty, or those that enjoy
swimming in canals, rivers, or lakes.
present have our pleasure and happiness through the controlling
power of the defilements, which is like the happiness of prisoners
in jail. When the mind receives training from the outside world
meaning the Dhamma that comes from the transcendent (lokuttara)
Dhammas, from the 'land' of nibbana on down, level by level
to the human world, revealing every level, every realm we find
that those of us who are inclined, who are interested in the
outside world, in happiness greater than that which exists at
present, still exist. When we hear the Dhamma step by step,
or read books about the outside world about Dhamma, about
releasing ourselves from the pain and suffering we are forced to
undergo within our hearts our minds feel pleasure and enjoyment.
Interest. A desire to listen. A desire to practice so as to reap the
results step by step. This is where we begin to see the influence of
the outside world making itself felt. The heart begins to exert
itself, trying to free itself from the tyranny and oppression from
within, like that of a prisoner in jail.
more so, when we practice in the area of the mind: The more peace we
obtain, then the greater the effort, the greater the exertion we
make. Mindfulness and discernment gradually appear. We see the harm
of the tyranny and the oppression imposed by the defilements in the
heart. We see the value of the Dhamma, which is a means of
liberation. The more it frees us, the more ease we feel in the
heart. Respite. Relief. This then is a means of increasing our
conviction in ascending stages, and of increasing our effort and
stamina in its wake. The mindfulness and discernment that used to
lie buried in the mud gradually revive and awaken, and begin to
contemplate and investigate.
past, no matter what assaulted us by way of the eye, ear, nose,
tongue, body, or mind, we were like dead people. We held these
things to be ordinary and normal. They never provoked our
mindfulness and discernment to investigate and explore, searching
for beginnings and ends, causes and effects. Even though these
things had been our enemies for a long, long time, making their
assaults both day and night, we were never interested.
however, we develop an interest. When the heart begins to enter the
current of the Dhamma in which it has been trained to the point of
developing a basis for mindfulness and discernment, step by step, it
is bound to see clearly both what is beneficial and what is harmful,
because these things dwell together benefits and harm within
this heart. The mind develops agility in contemplating and
investigating. The heart develops boldness in its explorations.
Seeing harm, it tries to remedy it. Seeing benefits, it tries to
open the way for them; it tries to foster them in ascending stages.
called the mind gradually gaining release from tyranny and
oppression the prison within. At the same time, it is gaining a
view of the outside world, seeing what sort of world it is, seeing
whether it's like the prison that exists at present. Our eyes can
see the outside world to some extent, can see how those in the
outside world live, how they come and go and what about us in the
prison? What is it like to live overcome by defilements? How does
the mind feel as we gain gradual relief from the defilements? We can
begin to make comparisons.
last we have an outside world and an inside world to compare! The
happiness and ease that come from removing however many of the
defilements we can remove, appear. The stress that continues as long
as the remaining defilements still exert their influence, we know
clearly. We see their harm with our discernment on its various
levels and we try continually to remedy the situation without
letting our persistence lapse.
when mindfulness, discernment, conviction, and persistence stir
themselves out to the front lines: when we see both the outside
world however much we have been able to liberate the heart
from defilement and the inside world, where the defilements
keep up their oppression and coercion. Before, we never knew what to
use for comparisons, because we had never seen anything other than
this. Because we were born buried in pain and suffering this way, no
pleasure from the outside world from the Dhamma ever appeared to
did appear was the kind of happiness that had suffering behind the
scenes, waiting to stomp in and obliterate that happiness
without giving a moment's notice.
however, we are beginning to know and see. We see the happiness of
the outside, that is, of the outside world, of those who have Dhamma
reigning in their hearts; and we see the happiness inside the
prison, the happiness that lies under the influence of defilement.
We also see the suffering and stress that lie under the influence of
defilement. We know this all clearly with our own mindfulness and
happiness that comes from the outside world in other words, from
the current of the Dhamma seeping deep into the heart we begin to
see, step by step, enough to make comparisons. We see the outside
world, the inside world, their benefits and drawbacks. When we take
them and compare them, we gain an ever greater understanding plus
greater persistence, greater stamina to the point that when
anything connected with defilement that used to tyrannize and
oppress the mind passes our way, we immediately feel called upon to
tackle it, remedy it, strip it away, and demolish it step by step
through the power of mindfulness and discernment backed by
mind will set itself spinning. When its awareness of harm is great,
its appreciation of what is beneficial is also great. When the
desire to know and see the Dhamma is great, when the desire to gain
release is great, persistence will have to become greater in their
wake. Stamina and resilience will also come in their wake, because
they all exist in the same heart. When we see harm, the entire heart
is what sees it. When we see benefits, the entire heart is what
sees. When we try to make our way with various methods in line with
our abilities, it's an affair of the entire heart making the effort
to free itself.
why these things, such as persistence, that are the mind's tools,
the mind's support, come together. For example, saddha,
conviction in the paths (magga) and their fruitions (phala),
conviction in the realm beyond suffering and stress; viriya,
persistence, perseverance in gaining release for oneself step by
step; khanti, stamina, endurance in order to be unyielding in
passing over and beyond: All of these things come together.
Mindfulness and discernment, contemplating along the way, seeing
what is right and what is wrong, will come in their wake.
were to speak in terms of the principles of the formal Dhamma as
expressed by the Buddha, this is called the path converging (magga-samangi),
gradually gathering itself into this single heart. Everything comes
together: Right View, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, all
the way to Right Concentration, all come gathering into this single
heart. They don't go anywhere else.
Right Action: Our only right undertakings are sitting and
walking meditation, because we have reached the stage of precision
work where the heart gathers together. The mind is in a state of the
path converging gathering itself into a single heart.
Right View, Right Resolve: These refer to the concerns of
discernment, always exploring the affairs of the elements, the
khandhas, whatever appears or makes contact, arises and
vanishes, whether good or evil, past or future, appearing in the
heart. Mindfulness and discernment slash these things to bits step
by step without bothering to waste time.
Right Action: On the level of the body, this refers to doing
sitting and walking meditation, making the effort to abandon the
defilements no matter what our posture. On the level of the heart,
this refers to persistence within the mind.
Right Speech: We speak only of the Dhamma. Our conversation
deals only with the topics of effacement (sallekha-dhamma),
topics of polishing away or washing away defilements and mental
effluents from the heart, telling what methods we can use that will
utterly end the defilements: This is Right Speech.
Right Livelihood: When the heart feeds on any object that's its
enemy, this is called maintaining a wrong livelihood. Since the
object is an enemy of the heart, the heart will have to be clouded.
There's nothing good about it at all. It has to lead to greater or
lesser amounts of suffering and stress within the heart in
proportion to the heart's crudeness or refinement. This is called
poison. Wrong livelihood. We have to correct it immediately.
mental object that's rightful, that leads to happiness, well-being,
and ease, is a fitting preoccupation, a fitting food for the heart,
providing it with peace and well-being. This is how Right Livelihood
is maintained with Dhamma on the ascending levels of training the
heart. As for Right Livelihood on the physical level, dealing with
food or alms, that applies universally for Buddhists in general to
conduct themselves in line with their personal duties.
Right Effort: What sort of effort? This we know. The Buddha
taught four kinds of effort: (1) Try to be careful not to let evil
arise within yourself. (2) Try to abandon evil that has already
arisen. In being careful not to let evil arise, we have to be
careful by being mindful. Using mindfulness in trying not to let
evil arise means being alert to the mind that thinks and wanders
about, gathering suffering and stress into itself. This is because
thought-formations of the wrong sort are the origin of stress, and
so we should be careful to guard against them. Don't be careless or
complacent. (3) Try to develop what is skillful intelligence so
as to increase it step by step. (4) Try to safeguard the skillful
things that have arisen so as to develop them even further and not
let them deteriorate. All of these right exertions apply right
Right Mindfulness keeps watch over the heart. Mindfulness and
self-awareness keep constant track of its behavior and activities.
Whatever makes contact by way of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, or
body, if it doesn't go into the heart, where does it go? The heart
is an enormous place, always ready to be informed of various things,
both good and evil. Discernment is what contemplates and
deliberates. Mindfulness is what keeps vigilant, inspecting whatever
comes in to engage the heart. Whatever the preoccupation, good or
evil, mindfulness and discernment contemplate and are selective of
what engages the heart. Whatever they see as improper, the mind will
reject immediately. Immediately. Discernment is what makes the
Right Concentration: Our work for the sake of making the
defilements quiet through concentration is steady and constant, to
the point where the results appear as peace and calm in the heart,
as a true place of rest without any distractions coming in to
disturb the heart at that moment.
entering concentration so as to relax the mind, in order to give
strength to discernment in its continuing explorations, you should
go ahead and really rest rest in concentration. Enter the calm.
Completely stop all thoughts and explorations in the area of
discernment. Let the mind settle in and relax. It doesn't have to
think or contrive anything at all related to its work. Let the mind
rest comfortably by giving it a single preoccupation. If the mind
happens to be extremely engrossed in its investigations so that you
can't rein it in, use 'buddho' as a means to drag it in. Make
the mind stay with 'buddho, buddho, buddho.' Even though the
meditation word 'buddho' may be a mental contrivance, it's a
contrivance in a single focal idea. Contriving a single focal idea
can cause the mind to settle down.
example, if while we are repeating, 'buddho, buddho, buddho,'
the mind flashes back to its work because it is engrossed in its
unfinished business, we should repeat the meditation word even
faster so as not to let the mind go back to its work. In other
words, when the mind is at the stage where it is engrossed in its
work, we could say to put it in worldly terms that we can't let
down our guard, although on this level it's hard to say that the
mind lets down its guard. To get nearer the truth, we should say
that we can't loosen our grip. To put it simply, we can't loosen our
grip. Otherwise the mind will jump back out to work. So at this
point we have to be firm with our meditation word. Force the mind to
stay with its single preoccupation 'buddho' as a means of
reining the mind in. Repeat 'buddho, buddho, buddho' in
really close frequency; then 'buddho' and the mind will
become one. The heart will be firm and calm down, calm down,
relaxing, relaxing, setting aside all its work. The mind will become
cool and peaceful. This is Right Concentration.
the time comes to rest, you have to rest like this for it to qualify
as Right Concentration. When you've had enough, when you see that
the mind has regained strength, then simply let go that's all
and the mind will spring immediately back to work. It springs out of
oneness, of having a single preoccupation, and returns to being two
with its work. At this point, the heart gets back to work without
worrying about concentration while it is working. In the same way,
when centering the mind for the sake of stillness, you don't have to
worry about your work at all.
resting, you have to rest, in the same way that when eating you
don't have to do any work at all except for the work of eating. When
sleeping, sleep peacefully. You shouldn't be concerned with any work
at all. But once you have begun work, you shouldn't concern yourself
with eating and sleeping. Really set your mind on your work. This is
called doing a solid piece of work: work in its proper phases, work
at the proper time, in keeping with events, 'Right Action,' work
that doesn't overstep its boundaries, appropriate work.
practice of centering the mind is something you can't neglect. In
practicing for the sake of the heart's happiness, the view that
centering the mind, keeping still, serves no purpose is wrong.
If someone is addicted to concentration, unwilling to come out and
work, that's improper and should be criticized so that he or she
will get down to work. But once the mind has become engrossed in its
work, concentration is a necessity in certain areas, at certain
times. Ordinarily, if we work without resting or sleeping, we
ultimately can't continue with our work. Even though some of our
money gets used up when we eat, let it be used up because the
result is that our body gains strength from eating and can return to
its work in line with its duties. Even though money gets used up and
the food we eat gets used up, still it's used up for a purpose: for
energy in the body. Whatever gets consumed, let it be consumed,
because it doesn't hurt our purposes. If we don't eat, where are we
going to get any strength? Whatever gets spent, let it be spent for
the sake of strength, for the sake of giving rise to strength.
same holds true with resting in concentration: When we're resting so
as to give rise to stillness, the stillness is the strength of mind
that can reinforce discernment and make it agile. We have to rest so
as to have stillness. If there is no stillness, if there's nothing
but discernment running, it's like a knife that hasn't been
sharpened. We keep chopping away chock, chock, chock but it's
hard to tell whether we're using the edge of the blade or the back.
We simply have the desire to know, to see, to understand, to uproot
defilement, whereas discernment hasn't been sharpened by resting in
stillness the reinforcement that gives peace and strength in the
heart and so it's like a knife that hasn't been sharpened.
Whatever gets chopped doesn't cut through easily. It's a simple
waste of energy.
the sake of what's fitting while resting the mind in its 'home of
concentration,' we have to let it rest. Resting is thus like using a
whetstone to sharpen discernment. Resting the body strengthens the
body, and in the same way resting the mind strengthens the mind.
comes out this time, now that it has strength, it's like a knife
that has been sharpened. The object is the same old object, the
discernment is the same old discernment, the person investigating is
the same old person, but once we focus our examination, it cuts
right through. This time it's like a person who has rested, slept,
and eaten at his leisure, and whose knife is fully sharpened. He
chops the same old piece of wood, he's the same old person, and it's
the same old knife, but it cuts right through with no trouble at all
because the knife is sharp, and the person has strength.
same way, the object is the same old object, the discernment is the
same old discernment, the person practicing is the same old person,
but we've been sharpened. The mind has strength as a reinforcement
for discernment and so things cut right through in no time at all
a big difference from when we hadn't rested in concentration!
concentration and discernment are interrelated. They simply do their
work at different times. When the time comes to center the mind,
center it. When the time comes to investigate in the area of
discernment, give it your all your full alertness, your full
strength. Get to the full Dhamma: the full causes and the full
effects. In the same way, when resting, give it a full rest.
Practice these things at separate times. Don't let them interfere
with each other being worried about concentration when examining
with discernment, or being preoccupied with the affairs of
discernment when entering concentration for that would be wrong.
Whichever work you're going to do, really make it a solid piece of
work. This is the right way, the appropriate way the way Right
Concentration really is.
discernment has begun uprooting defilements step by step, the heart
develops brightness. The lightness of the mind is one of the
benefits that come from removing the things that are hazardous, the
things that are filthy. We see the value of this benefit and keep on
defilement is, is a weight on the heart. Our mind is like a prisoner
constantly overpowered coerced and tormented by defilements and
mental effluents ever since we were born. When we come right down to
it, where is defilement? Where is being and birth? Right here in
this same heart. When you investigate, these things gather in,
gather in, and enter this single heart. The cycle of rebirth doesn't
refer to anything else: It refers to this single heart that spins in
circles. It's the only thing that leads us to birth and death. Why?
Because the seeds of these things are in the heart.
use mindfulness and discernment to investigate, we explore so as to
see clearly, and we keep cutting in, step by step, until we reach
the mind that is the culprit, harboring unawareness (avijja),
which is the important seed of the cycle in the heart. We keep
dissecting, keep investigating in, investigating in, so that there
is nothing left of 'this is this' or 'that is that.' We focus our
investigation on the mind in the same way as we have done with
phenomena (sabhava-dhamma) in general.
matter how much brightness there may be in the heart, we should know
that it's simply a place for the heart to rest temporarily as long
as we are still unable to investigate it to the point where we can
disperse and destroy it. But don't forget that this shining star of
a heart is actually unawareness.
investigate, taking that as the focal point of your investigation.
then. If this is going to be obliterated until there's no more
awareness, leaving nothing at all to the point where the 'knower'
is destroyed along with it then let's find out once and for all.
We're investigating to find the truth, to know the truth, so we have
to get all the way down to causes and effects, to the truth of
everything of every sort. Whatever is going to be destroyed, let it
be destroyed. Even if ultimately the 'knower' who is investigating
will be destroyed as well, then let's find out with our mindfulness
and discernment. We don't have to leave anything remaining as an
island or a vantage point to deceive ourselves. Whatever is 'us,'
whatever is 'ours,' don't leave it standing. Investigate down to the
truth of all things together.
left, after the defilement of unawareness is absolutely destroyed,
is something beyond the range to which convention can reach or
destroy. This is called the pure mind, or purity. The nature of
this purity cannot be destroyed by anything at all.
Defilements are conventional realities that can arise and vanish.
Thus they can be cleansed, made to increase, made to decrease, made
to disappear, because they are an affair of conventions. But the
mind pure and simple the phenomenon called a released mind lies
beyond the range to which any defilements, which are all
conventions, can reach and destroy. If the mind isn't yet pure, it's
a conventional reality just like other things, because conventional
things have infiltrated it. Once they are entirely removed, the
phenomenon of release is one that no defilement can any longer
affect because it lies beyond range. So what is destroyed?
stops, because the cause of stress stops. Nirodha the
cessation of stress also stops. The path, the tool that wipes out
the cause of stress, also stops. The four Noble Truths all stop
together. Stress stops, the cause of stress stops, the path stops,
the cessation of stress stops.
listen! What knows that 'that stops' is not a Noble Truth. It
lies above the Noble Truths. The investigation of the Noble
Truths is an investigation for the sake of this. Once we reach the
real thing, the four Noble Truths have no more role to play, no need
to be cleansed, remedied, or removed. For example, discernment: Now
that we've worked to the full extent, we can let go of discernment,
with no need to set rules for it. Both mindfulness and discernment
are tools in the battle. Once the war is over, the enemy is wiped
out, so these qualities are no longer at issue.
What's left? Purity. The Buddha, in proclaiming the Dhamma to
the world, took it from this pure nature. The doctrines of the
religion came from this nature, and in the approach he used in
teaching, he had to teach about stress because these conditions are
directly related to this mind. He taught us to know how to remedy,
how to stop, how to strive everything of every sort all the way
to the goal at the end of the path, after which nothing more need be
said. This is purity. The mind has come out to the outside world. It
has left the prison and come to the outside world freedom never
to be imprisoned again.
one wants to go to this world, because they have never seen it. This
is an important world lokuttara, the transcendent, a realm
higher than other worlds but we simply call it the outside world,
outside of all conventions. We call it a 'world' just as a
figure of speech, because our world has its conventions, and so we
simply talk about it that way.
about escaping from this prison. You've been born in prison, live in
prison and die in prison. You've never once died outside of prison.
So, for once, get your heart out of prison. You'll be really
comfortable really comfortable! like the Buddha and his Noble
Disciples: They were born in prison like you, but they died outside
of the prison. They died outside of the world. They didn't die in
this world that's so narrow and confining.
ask to stop here.
come with questions some of which I can remember and everyone
has the question that's waiting right at the barn door: Is there a
next world after death? The next world, who goes on to the next
world: These sorts of things aren't any one person's issue. They're
an issue for all of us who are carrying a burden. When people ask
this sort of question, I ask them in return, 'Was there a yesterday?
Was there a this morning? Is there a present at this moment?' They
admit that there was and is. 'Then will there be a tomorrow? A day
after tomorrow? A this month? A next month? A this year? A next year
and years after that?'
in the past that we can remember, we can use to make guesses about
the future. Even for things that haven't yet happened, we can make
comparisons with things that have already occurred. The future has
to follow the way things have been in the past. For example,
yesterday has already occurred, today is occurring. These things
have followed one after the other. We know this, we remember, we
haven't forgotten. This afternoon, this evening, tonight, tomorrow
morning: We've already seen that things have been like this. This is
the way things have happened, without being otherwise, and so we
accept that this is the way they will continue to be.
about this world and the next, or about things concerning ourselves:
This is delusion about ourselves. This is why these things become
big issues, causing endless fuss all over the world of rebirth. 'Is
there a next world? When people die, are they reborn?' These
questions go together, for who is it that takes birth and dies? We
ourselves always dying and taking birth. What comes to this world
and goes to the next world is us. Who else would it be? If not for
this being of the world, this wanderer, there wouldn't be anyone
weighed down with these questions and burdens.
the harm of delusion, of being unable to remember. It shows within
us, but we can't catch hold of its causes, of why it has come about.
Things that have happened, we can't remember. Our own affairs spin
us around in circles and get us so tangled up that we don't know
which way to go. This is why self-delusion is an endless
complication. Being deluded about other things is not so bad, but
being deluded about ourselves blocks all the exits. We can't find
any way out. The results come right back at us they don't go
anywhere else bringing us suffering, because these sorts of doubts
are questions with which we bind ourselves, not questions by which
we set ourselves free. We can have no hope of resolving and
understanding these doubts if we don't find confirmation of the
Dhamma in the area of meditation.
why the Lord Buddha taught us to unravel and look at our own
affairs. But unraveling our own affairs is something very critical.
If we do it by guessing or speculating or whatever, we won't
succeed. The only way to succeed is to develop goodness step by step
as a means of support and of drawing us in to mental development
(bhavana), or meditation, so as to unravel and look at our own
affairs, which lie gathered in the range of meditation. This is what
will lead us to know clearly and to cut through our doubts, at the
same time leading us to satisfactory results. We will be able to
stop wondering about death and rebirth or death and annihilation.
are our own affairs? The affairs of the heart. The heart is
what acts, creating causes and results for itself all the time:
pleasure, pain, complications, and turmoil. For the most part, it
ties itself down more than helping itself. If we don't force it into
good ways, the hearts reaps trouble as a result, the suffering that
comes from being agitated and anxious, thinking restlessly from
various angles for no worthwhile reason. The results we receive are
an important factor in making us pained and unsettled. This is thus
a difficult matter, a heavy matter for all those who are deluded
about the world, deluded about themselves, agitated by the world,
and agitated about themselves without being interested in confirming
the truth about themselves using the principles of the Dhamma,
principles that guarantee the truth. For example, once we die, we
must be reborn; as long as the seeds of rebirth are in the heart, we
have to continue being reborn repeatedly. It can't be otherwise
for instance, being annihilated at death.
Buddha teaches us to keep watch of the instigator. In other words,
we should observe our own heart, which is what causes birth and
death. If we don't understand it, he tells us various angles from
which to approach until we understand and can deal with it properly.
In particular, he teaches us to meditate, using any of the
meditation themes, repeating it so that the mind which has no
footing to hold to, which is in such a turmoil of finding no refuge
that it dwells in unlimited dreams and infatuations will gain
enough of a footing to get on its feet, will gain quiet and calm,
free from the distraction and unsteadiness that would destroy the
peace of mind we want.
example, he teaches us to repeat 'buddho, dhammo, sangho' or
'atthi' (bones), 'kesa' (hair of the head), 'loma'
(hair of the body), or whatever phrase suits our temperament, being
mindful to keep watch over our meditation theme so as not to become
forgetful and send the mind elsewhere, away from it. This is so that
the mind, which we used to send in various places, can latch onto or
dwell with its Dhamma-theme: its meditation word. Our awareness,
which used to be scattered among various preoccupations, will now
gather into that point the mind which is the gathering place of
awareness. All the currents of our awareness will converge at the
Dhamma-theme we are repeating or pursuing with interest. This is
because the meditation word which is something for the mind to
hold to, so that it can gain a footing becomes more and more an
object of clear and conspicuous awareness. Thus at the beginning
stages of meditation, the meditation word is very important.
we have seen the intrinsic value of the peace that appears this way,
we at the same time see clearly the harm that comes from the
agitation and turmoil of the mind that has no footing to hold
to, and that creates havoc for itself. We needn't ask anyone: The
benefits of a peaceful mind and the harm of an agitated mind, we see
within our own mind from having practiced meditation. This is a
step, the first step, by which the Buddha teaches us to know the
affairs of the mind.
try to make the mind progressively more firmly settled and calm by
repeating the meditation word, as already mentioned. We keep at it,
again and again, until we become adept, until the mind can become
still the way we want it to. The sense of well-being that arises
from a calm heart becomes even more prominent and clear all the
time. As soon as the mind becomes still, giving rise to clear and
prominent awareness, it is at the same time a gathering in of the
defilements into a single spot so that we can see them more clearly
and more easily observe their behavior so that we can more easily
cure them and remove them with the levels of discernment suited to
dealing with crude, intermediate, and subtle defilements step by
concerning defilements, the things that force the mind to be
agitated in countless, inconceivable ways: We can't catch sight of
what defilement is, what the mind is, what the Dhamma is, until we
first have a firm basis of mental stillness. When the mind gathers
in and is still, the defilements gather in and are still as well.
When the mind draws into itself, to be itself or to become a point
on which we can focus and understand, the affairs of defilement also
enter a restricted range in that same point. They gather in at the
heart and rarely ever run loose to stir up trouble for the heart as
they used to before the mind was still.
the mind is still so that it can stand on its feet, we are then
taught to use our discernment to investigate, unravel, and
contemplate the various parts of the body in which the defilements
hide out. What is the mind interested in? When it isn't quiet, with
what does it like to involve itself? While the mind is quiet, it
doesn't stir up trouble for itself, but a common habit with us human
beings is that once we have gained peace and relaxation, we get
lazy. We simply want to lie down and rest. We don't want to unravel
the body, the elements, or the khandhas with our mindfulness
and discernment for the sake of seeing the truth and removing the
various defilements from the heart. We don't like to reflect on the
fact that those who have abandoned and removed the various kinds of
defilement that hide out in the body and the khandhas have
done so by using mindfulness and discernment. As for mental
stillness or concentration, that's simply a gathering together of
the defilements into a restricted range. It's not an abandoning or a
removal of defilement. Please remember this and take it to
heart, when it isn't still, tends to get entangled with sights,
sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations, and to take them as
issues for stirring itself up. We can know with our mindfulness and
discernment which of the various sights, sounds, etc., the mind
tends to favor most strongly. While we are investigating, we can
know with our mindfulness and discernment the objects with which the
mind is involving itself. We can observe the affairs of the mind
because the mind has been still. As soon as it begins to head out
toward its various preoccupations, we know. This is why we are
taught to investigate and unravel things with our discernment so as
to know what the mind goes to involve itself with. Try to observe so
as to know, so as to see clearly with mindfulness and discernment
while you are investigating. Only when you are stilling the mind in
concentration is there no need for you to investigate, because
concentration and discernment take turns working at different times,
as I have already explained.
you are investigating visual objects, with which visual object is
the mind most involved? What is the reason? Look at the object.
Dissect it. Analyze it into its parts so as to see it clearly for
what it truly is. Once you have dissected the object whatever it
is so as to see it with discernment in line with its truth, at the
same time you will see the absurdity, the deceptiveness of the mind
that grows attached and misconstrues things in all kinds of ways
without any real reason, without any basis in fact. Once you have
investigated carefully, you'll see that the object has none of the
worth construed and assigned to it by the mind. There are simply the
assumptions of the mind that has fallen for the object, that's all.
Once you have investigated, separating the various parts of 'their'
body or 'your' body so as to see them in detail, you won't see
anything of any worth or substance at all. The heart of its own
accord will see the harmfulness of its assumptions, its labels and
attachments. The more it investigates, the more clearly it sees
not only the various sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile
sensations, but also the acts of the mind involved with those
objects until it fully knows and clearly sees with discernment,
because it has been constantly unraveling things both within and
without. You fully know and clearly see the acts inside the heart
that become involved, knowing that they come about for this reason
and that, all of which are thoroughly absurd.
you didn't know why the mind was involved. But now you know clearly
that it is involved for this reason and that: namely, delusion and
mistaken assumptions. When you investigate in line with the truth
and see the true nature of external things, you know clearly within
yourself that the mind has construed phenomena to be like this and
like that, which is why it has continually developed more and more
attachment and clinging, more and more of the defilements of love
and hatred. The heart then realizes its own absurdity.
the heart realizes that it has been deluded and absurd, it withdraws
inward, because if it were to continue to think of becoming attached
to those things, it would get cut right through by discernment so
what would it gain from becoming attached? To investigate so as to
know clearly that this is this, and that is that, in line with the
truth of every individual thing of every sort: This is the way to
unravel the great mass of problems that, taken together, are results
the mass of suffering inside the heart. This is how we are taught
to unravel it.
discernment constantly keeps unraveling things without letup until
it understands clearly and distinctly, we don't have to tell it to
let go. Once the mind knows, it lets go of its own accord. It is
bound to let go of its own accord. The mind attached is the mind
that doesn't yet know, doesn't yet understand with discernment. Once
the full heart knows, it fully lets go, with no concern or regrets.
All the concerns that used to bother and disturb the mind vanish of
their own accord because discernment sees right through them. Once
it sees everything clearly and distinctly, what is there left to
grope for? The problems of the heart that used to be broad and
wide-ranging now become more and more restricted. Problems
concerning outside affairs become less and less, as I have said in
next step is to unravel the mind, the gathering point of subtle
defilements, so as to see what it is looking for when it 'blips'
out. Where does it 'blip' from? What is there that pressures the
mind into forming thoughts of various issues? When mindfulness and
discernment can keep up with the thoughts that come 'blipping' out,
these thoughts vanish immediately without amounting to anything,
without forming issues to entangle us as they did before. This is
because mindfulness and discernment are wise to them, and always
ready to herd them in and wipe them out as they keep following in on
the tracks of the origin of defilement to see exactly where it is.
Where do its children and grandchildren the defilements come
from? Animals have their parents, what are the parents of these
defilements? Where are they? Why do they keep forming again and
again, thinking again and again? Why do they give rise to
assumptions and interpretations, increasing suffering and stress
Actually, thought-formations are formed at the mind. They don't come
from anywhere else. So investigate, following them in, step by step,
without losing the trail that will lead you to the truth, to the
culprit. This is genuine exploring, observing the affairs of all the
defilements, using the power of genuine mindfulness and discernment.
Ultimately we will know what the mind is lacking, what it is still
connected with, what it is interested in, what it wants to know and
follow the connections, follow the seeds on in. Day by day, the
defilements become more and more restricted, more and more
restricted. This is because the bridges that connect them to sights,
sound, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, and the various things of
the world in general have been cut away from the mind by using
continual mindfulness and discernment to the point where we have no
more doubts. It's as if the outside world didn't exist. There remain
only the preoccupations that form blip, blip, blip in the mind.
This is where the rebellious monarch lies. The one who concocts and
creates, the one who struggles and writhes restlessly in big and
little ways, lies right here.
we didn't know in what ways the mind was writhing. All we knew were
the results that appeared, unsatisfactory every time, giving us
nothing but suffering and stress, which no one in the world wants.
Our own heart was so burdened with stress that it couldn't find a
way out, because it had no inkling of how to remedy things. But now
that we know, these things gradually disappear so that we know and
see more and more clearly at the mind, which is where unawareness is
performing as an actor, as an issue-maker, here inside us. It can't
find anything to latch onto outside, so it simply acts inside. Why
doesn't it latch on? Because mindfulness and discernment understand,
and have it surrounded. So how could it latch onto anything? All it
does is go 'blip, blip, blip' in the mind. We now see it more
clearly and focus our investigation on it, scratch away at it, dig
away at it with mindfulness and discernment until we have it
surrounded every time the mind makes a move. There are no longer any
lapses in alertness as there were in the first stages when
mindfulness and discernment were still stumbling and crawling along.
persistence at this level is no longer a matter of every activity.
It becomes a matter of every mental moment in which the mind
ripples. Mindfulness and discernment have to know both when the
rippling comes out and when it vanishes and so there are no issues
that can arise in the moment the mind is fashioning a thought, an
assumption, or an interpretation. This is because our rocket-fast
mindfulness and discernment can keep up with things. As soon as a
rippling occurs, we know. When we know, it vanishes. No issues can
arise or connect. They vanish the moment they appear. They can't
branch out anywhere because the bridges to outside matters have been
cut by mindfulness and discernment.
mindfulness and discernment are exploring earnestly, relentlessly,
unflaggingly, they want to know, to see, and to destroy whatever is
hazardous. 'What causes us to take birth as individuals and beings?
What leads us to wander in the round of rebirth? What are the
causes, what are the conditions that connect things? Where are they
right now?' This is called scratching away with mindfulness and
discernment, digging away at the mind of unawareness. There is no
way we can escape knowing, seeing, and severing the important cause
and condition that creates suffering and stress for the beings of
the world: namely, the defilement of unawareness that has
infiltrated the mind in an insidious way. See? This is the power of
mindfulness, discernment, conviction, and persistence on this level,
something that meditators never imagine will be possible to this
where defilements begin to reveal themselves, because they have no
place to hide. They no longer have the sights, sounds, smells,
tastes, and tactile sensations in which they used to hole up,
because the bridges have been cut. Their only hideout is in the
mind: The mind is the hideout of unawareness. When we go ransacking
through the mind until everything is smashed completely to
smithereens with nothing left in the same way that we used
discernment to investigate phenomena in general then when the mind
of unawareness is ransacked in this way, ultimately the supreme
defilement unawareness, the emperor of the round of rebirth is
completely obliterated from the mind. At this point, how can we help
but know what it is that causes birth on this or that level? As for
where we will or won't be reborn, that's not important. What's
important is seeing clearly that this is what has caused birth and
how we prove whether death is followed by rebirth or annihilation.
We have to prove it at the mind by practicing in line with the
principles of mental development, in the same way the Buddha and his
Noble Disciples practiced and knew so that it was clear to their
hearts. There is no other way to know. Don't go groping, guessing,
scratching at fleas. You'll end up all mangy and dirty, without
gaining anything at all. When we reach this point, it's called
eliminating birth whose primary seeds lie within completely from
the mind. From this moment onward, there is nothing that can ever
again connect and branch out. Mindfulness and discernment on the
level of Dhamma-realization know this completely.
the culprit who asks, 'Is there a next world?' This is the one who
reserves a place in the next world, the one who reserved our place
in past worlds, the one who has been born and has died over and over
and over again, unceasingly, relentlessly, to the point where it
can't remember the births, the deaths, the pleasures, the pains, the
sufferings large and small in its various lives. This is the one.
please remember its face and take it to heart. Probe it and slash it
away to smithereens. Don't show it any mercy: You'll simply be
feeding and fattening it for it to come back and destroy you.
gather the defilements, they come into the one mind. They gather
here and we destroy them right here. Once we have finished
destroying them so that nothing is left, the questions about birth,
death, and the suffering and stress that result from birth and death
no longer exist. We can know this clearly and fully for ourselves in
a way that is immediately apparent.
is no more problem about whether or not there is a next world. Our
past worlds, we have already abandoned. As for the next world, the
bridges have all been sent flying. And as for the present, we're
wise to it. There are no conventions, no matter now refined, left in
the mind. This is truly a mind with no more problems. This is where
we solve the mind's problems. Once they are all solved here, there
will never be any problems again.
matter how wide the world, no matter how many universes there are,
they are all a matter of conventional reality, which has no limit.
The heart that knows all around itself is no longer involved.
affairs that have been constantly assaulting us up to the present,
and that will do so on into the future, are the affairs of this mind
that has hazards buried within itself. That's all there is. When
these hazards have been entirely removed, there is nothing left to
be dangerous or poisonous ever again. The question of whether or not
there is a next world no longer holds any interest, because the
realization has gone straight to the heart that it is done with
the question of connecting up with any other world again. So in
studying and solving our own problem, we tackle it right here. This
way there's hope that we can put an end to it at the same time not
causing any harm to ourselves or to others at all.
Lord Buddha solved the problem right here. His arahant disciples
solved it right here knew it right here, severed it completely
right here. The proclamation that the Teacher was completely free of
suffering and stress, that he was the foremost teacher of the world,
came from this knowledge and this freedom from issues. Our study of
the world is completed right here at the mind. Our study of the
Dhamma reaches full completion right here.
'world' means the world of living beings. 'Living beings' (satta)
means those who are caught up, caught up right at the mind. This is
where we cut through the problem. This is where we study and know.
The arahant disciples studied and knew right here with their full
hearts and that was the end of the problem. They solved the
problem and it fell away, with nothing remaining.
for us, we take on the whole thing: the entire heap of suffering and
stress. We take on all problems, but we aren't willing to solve
them. We simply hoard them to weigh ourselves down all the time. Our
heart is thus filled with a heap of stress that nothing else can
equal, because nothing else is as heavy as a heart heaped with
stress. Carrying this heap of stress and problems is heavy on the
heart because we haven't completed our studies. We carry nothing but
this heap because of our delusion.
vijja true knowledge has appeared and eradicated all the
hazards from the heart, this is what it means to 'graduate' in line
with natural principles, with none of the conferring of degrees or
titles that would cause us to become even more deluded. To complete
our study of the Dhamma in the heart means that we have erased it
completely of all delusion, with no traces remaining.
moment, the three levels of existence the levels of sensuality,
form, and formlessness become no more problem, because they all
lie in the heart. The level of sensuality is a mind composed of
sensuality. The levels of form and formlessness are the conventions
of the various things in those levels buried in the heart. When the
heart removes them, that's the end of the problem. When we solve the
problem, this is where we solve it. This world and the next world
lie right here, because that which steps into any world lies right
here. This mind is what steps out to receive stress in greater or
lesser measure. The motor, the propeller, lies here in the heart and
Lord Buddha thus taught at the right point, the most appropriate
point: the heart, which is the primary culprit. The things I have
mentioned here, with whom do they lie if not with each of us? And if
we don't solve them right here, where will we solve them?
beings have to go to their various worlds through the power of the
good and bad kamma within the heart. That which goes to the
worlds to the bonfires is this very heart. If we don't solve the
problem right here, there is no way of escaping the bonfires of
stress and anxiety. If we solve the problem right here, there is no
problem as to where the fires are, because we can keep ourselves
protected. That's all there is to it!
these things are very heavy worlds for living beings in general.
Whatever problems arise, they arise right here. 'Is death followed
by rebirth? By annihilation? Is there a next world? Does hell exist?
Does heaven? Does evil exist? Does merit?' Everywhere I go, there's
the same question: 'Do heaven and hell exist?' I never feel like
answering. I don't see any reason to answer it, because that which
is burdened with heaven and hell is the heart, which everyone
already has. So why waste time answering? After all, I'm not a
record-keeper for heaven and hell!
Straighten things out right here at the cause that will go to heaven
and hell. Straighten out the bad causes and foster the good. There
will then be no stress, if we straighten things out right on target.
And how can we miss? The well-taught Dhamma (svakkhata-dhamma)
teaches us to solve things right on target, not off-target. The
Dhamma that leads (niyyanika-dhamma) by means of the
well-taught Dhamma, leads out those who are caught up in stress and
anxiety through the power of delusion. Where will we solve things if
we don't solve them at the heart? The big problems lie solely at the
heart, at this awareness. Crudeness is a matter of this awareness.
Refinement is a matter of this awareness. That which makes people
crude or refined is this awareness, with defilement as the
reinforcement. If the mind becomes refined, it's because goodness is
the reinforcement, making it refined until it goes beyond the final
point of refinement, beyond the final point of conventions, and ends
up gaining release from all stress, with no seeds for any further
question that people are always asking is how to overcome laziness.
If we were to tell them to use laziness to overcome laziness, it
would be tantamount to telling them to become an enemy of beds,
blankets, and pillows by sleeping without ever waking up. It would
be as if they were already dead, because laziness makes you weak and
listless like a person ready to die. How can you use laziness to
cure laziness? Once you get a nice resting place as a means of
lulling you to drown in sleep, it's as if you were already dead
dead right there on the pillow! Even when you wake up, you don't
want to get up, because laziness stomps all over you and destroys
you, forcing you not to get up. This is how it goes when you use
laziness to cure laziness.
use energy and persistence to cure laziness, then you get right up,
ready to fight. If there's a fight, you have hope of winning. But if
you simply lie prostrate, all you can do is lose although whether
we should call it losing or something else is hard to say, because
you don't even put up a fight at all, so how can you say that you
lose? If there's a fight and you can't win, then you can say that
this person wins and that person loses. But here there's no fight at
all! You simply lie there groveling. If you don't call this being a
servant in the house of defilements, what would you call it? Because
that's what it is: being a servant in their house. If you use
laziness to the point of being its servant to cure defilement,
you end up piling on even more defilements. Or what would you say?
As things stand, defilements already fill the heart, so if you
foster them even more, where are you going to put them? You've got
only one heart! The only way is to remove defilements so that you
can begin to breathe, and not let them sit on top of your nose so
that you can never gasp a breath at all.
them so that you can begin to see yourself: 'At last, after all the
time I've been meditating, I've finally seen a piece of defilement's
grandchild laziness fall off, just like a chip of bark off a
tree. Today at last I can begin to see myself. Up to now there's
only been defilement making use of my nose and mouth. It's really
Persistence. Diligence. Exertion in the way of reason that can
accomplish our purposes: This is the path that sages have followed.
Even though it may be difficult, we're up to the fight. It's like
removing a thorn from your foot: Even though it hurts to remove it,
you have to bear it. If you let it stay there, your whole foot will
become infected and putrid. You won't be able to walk at all, and
may even lose the foot. So there's only one reasonable course: Pull
it out. No matter how much it hurts, you have to bear it, because
you have to get the thing out! This is a line of reasoning you have
to accept. Once the thorn is out, it holds no more poison. Put
medicine on the wound, and the foot will heal without flaring up as
it would if the thorn were still embedded there.
Defilement is just like a thorn. We let it lie buried forever in the
heart. As long as it remains, the heart is infected and putrid,
there in the midst of the round of rebirth an endless monotony. Is
this what you want? To be a putrid person? Ask yourself. Don't ask
the defilements. They'll simply do you more harm. If you don't want
this, you have to fight them. Once you fight them, you are sure
somehow of finding a way to win. No matter how many times you lose,
there will have to come a time when you win. Once you've won, then
you can keep on winning, winning and winning until there is nothing
left for you to fight because the defilements are completely mauled.
you win, whom do you defeat? You defeat laziness with diligence. You
defeat defilement with energy and persistence. This way you gain
release from all stress. This is how you solve the problem of birth
and death, right at the heart. There is only this spot that most
needs solving. It's the most appropriate spot, the most correct spot
to solve. To solve things, you solve them here. There is no way you
can solve them anywhere else. Keep on making assumptions and
interpretations for aeons and aeons, and you'll simply continue to
be burdened with the problem as it leads you to birth, death,
suffering, and stress. So you shouldn't be bold in speculating and
guessing, or you'll waste your time and die in vain, because there
is no way the problem will be solved with guesses and speculations.
suffering exist, or not? Do merit (puρρa) and evil exist, or
not?' Actually, we are experiencing these things, all of us, with no
possible exceptions. 'Evil' is mental darkness and stress. 'Merit'
is well-being and ease. These things exist in the body and mind of
every person, so how can you deny them? 'Merit' is a name for
well-being. The Buddha calls it merit. Stress he calls evil. We are
touched by good and evil all the time. Whether we live in this world
or the next, we can't help but meet with good and evil.
not-hell, if there's pain filling the body and mind, who wants it?
Who wants to meet with it? This is something we all know, so why ask
about hell when it's already with us like this? Wherever pain is
burning us, it's as hot as being branded with fire. No matter where
you're branded, it all has to be hot in the same way. You can call
it hell or not-hell as you like, but nobody wants it, because pain
is something we have all known for ourselves.
where to trouble your heart are you going to go looking for
heaven? When you meet with the well-being that comes from practicing
the Dhamma and especially with well-being in the heart, beginning
with stillness and calm in ascending stages to the point where the
mind develops a firm and solid footing within, so that it is sure of
itself; and then further, to the point where you gain release then
where are you going to ask about heaven and nibbana?
There's no need to ask. You know them directly with your heart.
You are the owner, in charge of the heart that is clearly the
instigator, so where else are you going to look for the names
'heaven' and 'hell'? What is there to grope for?
got the real thing within you. That's all there is to the matter.
The Dhamma of the Lord Buddha doesn't delude people into groping for
this or that. So take hold of the real thing right here.
then. That should be enough for now.
Taste for the Dhamma
basic principles of the doctrine, we are taught that, 'A delight in
the Dhamma surpasses all other delights. The flavor of the Dhamma
surpasses all other flavors.' This statement was made by a person
who had felt delight in the true Dhamma, who had tasted the flavor
of the true Dhamma: namely, our Lord Buddha. For this reason, those
who take an interest in listening to his teachings find that no
matter what the statement, each word, each sentence goes straight to
the heart except, of course, for people who are simply going
through the motions of listening without focusing the mind, letting
it drift engrossed in various things in line with its original
inclinations without gaining anything of any worth.
teachings of the religion have no meaning in a mind of this sort
until it turns to the Dhamma, develops an interest of its own
accord, and puts the Dhamma into practice. Only then will the flavor
of the Dhamma seep deep into the heart, nurturing it and giving rise
to conviction step by step. This is because the heart now has a
continuing basis for the Dhamma that supports it in ascending
particular, when listening to Dhamma dealing with the practice, if
our mind doesn't have any experience with meditation, has never
taken an interest in the Dhamma, has never taken an interest in
practicing the Dhamma, then not even a single statement will arrest
the attention. When listening to a talk on the practice dealing with
the stages of the mind, the progress of the mind, setting the mind
aright in relationship to the defilements or to the path
mindfulness and discernment, or persistent effort we won't
understand. When we don't understand, we become frustrated and turn
our attention elsewhere. Perhaps we may become drowsy and want to go
to sleep or something of the sort. The talk seems long because it
acts as a drag on our defilements, preventing them from roaming
around as they please. This is because we have to keep control over
the mind while we listen to the talk; and the mind, when kept under
control in this way, feels hemmed in, imprisoned within limits it
finds oppressive. Annoyed and bored, it doesn't want to listen,
except for the purpose of creating useless issues for entangling
when we keep listening with interest, meditating even while we
listen, the mind becomes focused and follows along with the stream
of Dhamma being explained. The mind grows still because the
awareness making contact with the Dhamma maintains that contact
continuously, step by step, without break. The heart has no chance
to slip away to any other preoccupations that are its enemies while
listening, and so it's able to settle down and be still.
able to settle down in this way is to begin building a base, or to
scrub our vessel the heart making it clean and fit to receive
the Dhamma. The heart will start growing more peaceful and calm,
seeing the value of listening to the Dhamma as explained by the
Buddha: 'Listening to the Dhamma has five rewards.' The fifth reward
is the important one: 'The mind of the listener becomes radiant and
calm.' This one is very important, but it must build on the earlier
ones. 'The listener hears things he or she has never heard' this
is the basis for the rest.
that we have never listened to anything in the way of the practice
or whatever. When we come to listen, we gain an understanding of
things we have never heard before. Things that we have heard
before, but never understood clearly, we gradually come to
understand more and more clearly. We can bring our views more
correctly into line. And finally we reach the stage where 'the mind
of the listener becomes radiant and calm.' When results of this sort
appear, a delight in the Dhamma will develop of its own accord. The
flavor of the Dhamma will begin to appear while we listen and while
the mind is stilling itself to listen. Even though this flavor may
not yet surpass all others, it is nevertheless absorbing and
arresting, and will remain long in the memory, not easily erased.
why meditators place great importance on listening to the Dhamma. If
you were to call it being attached to one's teacher, I wouldn't
disagree. Meditating monks always like to listen to their teachers.
If they have a teacher they venerate and revere in the area of
meditation, in the area of the mind, then wherever he lives they
will keep coming to be with him until there is hardly enough room
for them to stay.
Venerable Acariya Mun is an example. Wherever he stayed, students
would come continually from near and far to search him out. Even
though they couldn't all stay in the same place with him, inasmuch
as there wasn't enough room, they would still be willing to stay in
nearby areas, two, three, four, or seven to eight kilometers away,
so that they might conveniently come to hear his teachings on the
uposatha days and 'Dhamma meeting' days.
uposatha days, after listening to the Patimokkha and to his
instructions, anyone who had any doubts or questions about the
Dhamma could ask him to resolve them. For this reason, the township
where he stayed was filled with nothing but meditating monks and
novices. When uposatha day came, they would begin gathering
together after the morning meal. At 1:00 p.m. they would hear the
Patimokkha; and after the Patimokkha, Venerable Acariya Mun would
give his talk that's when he'd usually give his talk, after the
Patimokkha. This would be an important part of the practice for
those who lived with him. During the Rains Retreat (vassa) we
would meet like this every seven days. Outside of the Rains Retreat,
the schedule wasn't too fixed, but this is how he would usually
schedule things for those of us who stayed directly with him. Each
time we would listen to his talks we would gain in insight and
understanding without fail. This is why meditation monks are
attached to their teachers.
time we would listen to him, he himself would be like a magnet
drawing the interest of the monks and novices. In all things related
to the Dhamma, he would be the major attracting force, inspiring
fascination and delight in the Dhamma. There was a delight in seeing
him and meeting him each time, and even more so in hearing him speak
talking in general, giving instructions, conversing about ordinary
things, joking because he himself was entirely Dhamma.
Everything he would do or say in any way would keep revealing Dhamma
and reasonability that could be taken as a lesson, so that those who
were interested could gain a lesson each time they heard him.
why meditating monks find a great deal of enjoyment in the area of
the Dhamma by living with a meditation master. They go to be with
him of their own accord. When they are far from him, and their minds
aren't yet to the stage where they can look after themselves, they
are bound to feel lonesome. Or if they come across a problem they
can't solve, they are sure to miss him. If they can't work out a
solution, they have to run to him for advice so as to save a great
deal of the time it would take to figure out a solution on their own
because he has been through everything of every sort. If we would
take a problem to him, then as soon as we had finished the last
sentence, he would immediately have the solution and we would
understand right then and there.
why, when living with a master who has realized the truth, there's
no delay, no waste of time in dealing with each problem as it
arises. This is a great benefit for those who come to study with
him. They're never disappointed. The fact that one who has seen the
truth is giving the explanation makes all the difference.
moment ago I began by mentioning a delight in the Dhamma. What I
have just been talking about is the same sort of thing: finding
pleasure in the Dhamma, continual pleasure, through listening to it
constantly. In the same way, when we practice the Dhamma constantly,
the results the flavor and nourishment that come from the practice
increase continually, becoming more and more solid and substantial
in the heart.
Especially in the practice of centering the mind: The mind is calm,
tranquil, contented, and relaxed. Its thoughts don't go meddling
with anything outside. It's as if the world didn't exist, because
our attention isn't involved with it. There's simply the Dhamma to
be contemplated and practiced so as to give rise to more and more
steadiness and strength.
the level of discernment, no matter how broad or narrow our
investigation of the many phenomena in the world may be, it is
exclusively for the sake of the Dhamma, for the sake of
self-liberation. We thus become thoroughly engrossed, day and night.
The more strongly our heart is set on the Dhamma, the greater its
stamina and courage. It has no concern for life itself, no worries
about its living conditions or anything external. Its only support
is the guiding compass of the Dhamma. Whether we are sitting, lying
down, or whatever, the heart is engrossed in its persistent efforts
in practicing the Dhamma. On the level of concentration, it is
engrossed in its stillness of mind. On the level of discernment, it
is engrossed in its explorations of the Dhamma from various angles
for the sake of removing defilement, step by step, as it
of heart is thus possible in each stage of persisting with the
practice. The more quiet and secluded the place, the more
conspicuously this awareness stands out. Even knowledge in the area
of concentration stands out in our inner awareness. It stands out
for its stillness. In the area of discernment, our knowledge stands
out for the shrewdness and ingenuity of the mind as it explores
without ceasing except when resting in the stillness of
concentration just as water from an artesian well flows without
ceasing during both the wet season and the dry.
phenomena make contact with the mind or even when they don't a
mind already inclined to discernment is bound to investigate,
peering into every nook and cranny, gaining understanding step by
step. For example, when we are first taught mindfulness immersed in
the body (kayagata-sati), it seems superficial because the
mind is superficial. It has no footing, no mindfulness, no
discernment. It hasn't any principles any Dhamma to hold to.
Whatever it hears doesn't really go straight to the heart, because
the mind is buried way down there, deep under the belly of
once it develops principles and reasonability within itself, then
especially when we're sitting in meditation in a quiet place,
investigating the body the whole body seems clear all the way
through. That's how it really feels to a person meditating on this
level. It's really enthralling. Whether we're contemplating the skin
or the body's unattractiveness, it appears extremely clear, because
that's the way its nature already is simply that our mind hasn't
fallen in step with the truth and so is constantly taking issue with
that the mind can develop stillness and investigate using its
discernment, let's take it on a meditation tour, exploring the body:
our five khandhas. We can travel up to the head, down to the
feet, out to the skin, into the muscles, tendons, and bones to see
how all the parts are related and connected by their nature.
mind contemplates in this way, step by step, as it gets engrossed in
its investigation, the final result is that even though we're
investigating the body, the body doesn't appear in our inner sense
of feeling at all. The mind feels airy and light. The physical body
disappears, despite the fact that we continue investigating the
mental image of the body as before. Even though we're using the
mental image of the body as the focal point of our investigation,
the physical aspect of the body no longer appears. It completely
vanishes. We investigate until there's a refinement in the mind's
sense of awareness to the point where we can make the body in the
image die and disintegrate, step by step. Our awareness is confined
solely to the mental image that we are investigating by means of
discernment. We see it distinctly because nothing else is coming in
mind feels no hunger or desire to go skipping outside. It's
completely engrossed in its work of investigation. Its understanding
grows clearer and clearer. The clearer its understanding, the
greater its fascination. Ultimately there is simply the mental
image, or the idea, and the mind, or discernment. As for the actual
body, it disappears. You don't know where it's gone. There's no
sense of the body at that moment, even though you are investigating
the body until you see its condition disintegrating clearly within
the mind disintegrating until it returns to its original condition
as the elements of earth, water, wind, and fire. Once the body in
the image returns to its original elements, the mind then withdraws
inward, leaving nothing but simple awareness.
Feelings all disappear at this stage. Saρρa, sankhara, and
viρρana aren't involved. There's simply awareness, sufficient
for the mind's state at that moment. It enters a really solid
stillness, leaving only simple awareness. The body sitting here
something that can occur in the course of investigating, but
please don't plan on it. Simply listen now for the sake of
becoming absorbed and gladdened while listening. This will give rise
to the benefits of listening that you will actually see for
will happen when you investigate in line with your own personal
traits is a completely individual matter that will appear in keeping
with your temperament. As for what occurs with other people, you
can't make yourself experience what they do, know the way they know,
or see the way they see. This is something that depends on each
person's individual traits. Let things follow your own inner nature
in line with the way you are able to investigate and to know.
one point I want to explain.
second point: When investigating the body in terms of inconstancy,
stress, and not-self, then whether or not you think, 'inconstancy,
stress, and not-self' when discernment makes clear contact with
the bodily khandha, it will be able to know these things on
its own, because things that are inconstant, stressful, and not-self
are things that deserve to be relinquished, that inspire dispassion
and disenchantment, step by step, until you let go. When the mind
has investigated so that it fully understands, it lets go of its own
accord without being forced, because each part, each aspect of the
body or of the khandha being investigated is simply an
individual truth. When the mind investigates clearly in this way, it
makes the break automatically, because a truth has encountered a
truth: The mind is the mind, and each of these individual conditions
is a separate condition that hasn't come to involve itself with the
mind at all. The mind will then turn around to see its own fault in
being attached. 'Here I've really been deluded. Actually things are
like this and this.' This is one stage: When the mind hasn't yet
made a complete break when it doesn't yet have adequate strength
it will start out by knowing at intervals in this way.
next time you investigate, you know in this way again and it keeps
seeping in, seeping in, until your knowledge on this level becomes
adequate and lets go. Like duckweed that keeps moving in, moving in
to cover the water: After you spread it apart, the duckweed comes
moving in again, and you spread it apart again. This is how it is
when discernment investigates these things, making forays into these
things or unraveling them. As soon as discernment retreats, subtle
defilements come moving in again, but after you have investigated
many, many times, the duckweed the various types of defilement
begins to thin out. Your investigation of these phenomena becomes
more and more effortless, more and more proficient, more and more
subtle, step by step, until it reaches a point of sufficiency and
the mind extricates itself automatically, as I have already
mind when its mindfulness and discernment are sufficiently strong
can extricate itself once and for all. This knowledge is clear to
it, without any need to ask anyone else ever again. The heart is
sufficient, in and of itself, and sees clearly as 'sanditthiko'
in the full sense of the term, as proclaimed by the Dhamma, without
any issues to invite contradiction.
point: Sometimes, when investigating the body, the mind makes
contact with a feeling of pain, and so turns to investigate it. This
all depends on the mind's temperament. In the same way, when we turn
to investigate the feeling, the mind sends us back to the body. This
is because the body and the feeling are interrelated and so must be
investigated together at the same time, depending on what comes
naturally to us at that particular time, that particular feeling,
and that particular part of the body.
the mind investigates a feeling of pain, the pain is nothing more
than 'a pain.' The mind looks at it, fixes its attention on it,
examines it, and then lets it go right there, turning to look at the
body. The body is the body. The feeling is a feeling. Then we turn
to look at the mind: The mind is the mind. We investigate and
experiment to find the truth of the body, the feeling, and the mind
all three of which are the troublemakers until we have a solid
understanding of how each has its own separate reality.
the mind pulls back from the body and the feeling, neither the body
nor the feeling appears. All that appears is simple awareness. When
a mental current flashes out to know, the feeling then appears as a
feeling. These currents are the means by which we know what
phenomenon has appeared, because this knowledge gives a meaning or a
label to the phenomenon as being like this or like that.
we're going to think in a way that binds us to 'ourself' in other
words, in the way of the origin of stress we have to make use of
this act of labeling as what leads us to grasp, to become attached,
to make various assumptions and interpretations. If we're going to
think in the way of discernment, we have to make use of the
discernment that is this very same current of the mind to
investigate, contemplate, until we see clearly by means of
discernment and can withdraw inwardly in a way that is full of
reason not in a way that is lazy or weak, or that is groveling in
abject surrender with no gumption left to fight.
investigating feeling, when a saρρa flashes out, mindfulness
is alert to it. If our investigation of feeling has become refined
and precise, then when a saρρa simply flashes out, we know.
When sankharas form, they are just like fireflies: blip! If
no saρρa labels them or picks up where they leave off, they
simply form blip! blip! and then vanish, vanish. No matter what
they form good thoughts, bad thoughts, crude thoughts, subtle
thoughts, neutral thoughts, whatever they are simply a rippling of
the mind. If they occur on their own, when nothing is making contact
with the mind, they're called sankhara. If they occur when
something is making contact, they're called viρρana.
we're talking about the sankharas that form on their own,
without anything else being involved. They form blip and then
vanish immediately. Blip and then vanish immediately. We can see
this clearly when the mind converges snugly in the subtle levels of
concentration and discernment.
snugness of the mind's convergence won't have anything else involved
with it at all. All that remains is simple awareness. When this
simple awareness remains stable this way, we will see clearly that
it isn't paired with anything else. When the mind begins to withdraw
from this state to return to its awareness of phenomena returning
to its ordinary state of mind that can think and form thoughts
there will be a rippling blip that vanishes immediately. It will
then be empty as before. In a moment it will 'blip' again. The mind
will form just a flash of a thought that doesn't yet amount to
anything, just a rippling that vanishes immediately the instant it's
known. As soon as there's a rippling, we are alert to it because of
the power of mindfulness keeping watch at the moment or because of
the strength of concentration that hasn't yet dissipated. But after
these ripples have formed two or three times, they come more and
more frequently, and soon we return to ordinary consciousness, just
as when a baby awakens from sleep: At first it fidgets a bit, and
then after this happens a number of times, it finally opens its
same is true of the mind. It has calm... Here I'm talking about
concentration when discernment is there with it. The various ways of
investigating I have mentioned are all classed as discernment. When
we have investigated enough, the mind enters stillness, free from
mental formations and fashionings and from any sort of disturbance.
All that appears is awareness. Even just this has the full flavor of
a centered mind, which should already be enough to surpass all other
flavors. We never tire of delighting in this stillness. We feel a
constant attraction to this stillness and calm in the heart.
Wherever we go, wherever we stay, the mind has its own foundation.
The heart is at ease, quiet and calm, so that now we must use
discernment to investigate the elements and khandhas.
important point to notice is the act of formation in the mind. Once
something is formed, saρρa immediately labels it as if
sankhara were forming things to hand on to saρρa, which
takes up where the sankhara leaves off. It then interprets
these things from various angles and this is where we get deluded.
We fall for our own assumptions and interpretations, for our own
shadows, which paint picture stories that have us engrossed or upset
both day and night. Why are we engrossed? Why are we upset?
Engrossed or upset, it's because of the mind's shadows acting out
stories and issues. This story. That story. Future issues. Things
yet to come. Things yet to exist nothing but the mind
painting pictures to delude itself. We live in our
thought-formations, our picture-painting engrossed and upset by
nothing but our own thought-formations, our own picture-painting. In
a single day there's not a moment when we're free from painting
imaginary pictures to agitate and fool ourselves. Wise people,
though, can keep up with the tricks and deceits of the khandhas,
which is why they aren't deluded.
moment when mindfulness and discernment really penetrate down is
when we can know that this is actually the way the mind usually is.
Like people who have never meditated: When they start meditating,
they send their minds astray, without anything to hold on to. For
example, they may have a meditation word, like 'buddho,' and
there they sit their eyes vacant, looking at who-knows-what. But
their minds are thinking and painting 108 pictures with endless
captions. They then become engrossed with them or wander aimlessly
in line with the preoccupations they invent for themselves, falling
for their preoccupations more than actually focusing on their
meditation. They thus find it hard to settle their minds down
because they don't have enough mindfulness supervising the work of
meditation to make them settle down.
have used our alertness and ingenuity in the areas of concentration
and discernment, we will come to know clearly that these conditions
come from the mind and then delude the mind whose mindfulness and
discernment aren't quick enough to keep up with them. The heart
causes us to follow after them deludedly, so that we can't find any
peace of mind at all, even though our original aim was to meditate
to find peace of mind. These deceptive thoughts engender love, hate,
anger, irritation, without letup, no matter whether we are
meditators or not because as meditators we haven't set up
mindfulness to supervise our hearts, and the result is that we're
just as insane with our thoughts as anyone else. Old Grandfather
Boowa has been insane this way himself, and that's no joke!
Sometimes, no matter how many years in the past a certain issue may
lie, this aimless, drifting heart wanders until it meets up with it
and revives it. If it was something that made us sad, we become sad
about it again, all on our own. We keep it smoldering and think it
back to life, even though we don't know where the issue lay hidden
in the meantime. These are simply the mind's own shadows deceiving
it until they seem to take on substance and shape. As what? As
anger, greed, anxiety, pain, insanity, all coming from these
shadows. What sort of 'path' or 'fruition' is this? Paths and
fruitions like this are so heaped all over the world that we can't
find any way out.
investigating the acts of the mind, the important point is that
discernment be quick to keep up with their vagrant ways. When
mindfulness and discernment are quick enough, then whatever forms in
the mind, we will see that it comes from the mind itself, which is
about to paint pictures to deceive itself, about to label and
interpret sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of various kinds. The
heart is then up on these preoccupations; and when it is up on them,
they vanish immediately, with no chance of taking on substance or
shape, of becoming issues or affairs. This is because mindfulness
and discernment are wise to them, and so the issues are resolved.
Ultimately, we come to see the harm of which the mind is the sole
cause. We don't praise or blame sights, sounds, smells, tastes,
or tactile sensations at all. The heart turns and sees the harm that
arises in the mind that deceives itself, saying, 'That's worth
praising... worth criticizing... worth getting glad about... worth
getting sad about.' It sees that the blame lies entirely with the
mind. This mind is a cheat, a fraud, a deceiver. If we study it and
keep watch of its ways through meditation, we will gain a thorough
knowledge of its good and evil doings, until it lies within our
grasp and can't escape us at all.
how we investigate when we investigate the mind.
Ultimately, other things will come to have no meaning or importance
for us. The only important thing is this deceiving mind, so we must
investigate this deceiver with mindfulness and discernment so that
we can be wise to its tricks and deceits.
fixing our attention on the mind, we have to act as if it were a
culprit. Wherever it goes, we have to keep watch on it with
mindfulness and discernment. Whatever thoughts it forms, mindfulness
and discernment have to keep watch so as to be up on events. Each
event serious or not keeps vanishing, vanishing. The heart knows
clearly, 'This mind, and nothing else, is the real culprit.'
objects aren't at fault. They don't give benefits or harm. Sounds,
smells, tastes, and tactile sensations don't give benefits or harm,
because they themselves aren't benefits or harm. Only the mind is
what fashions them and dresses them up so as to deceive itself into
being gladdened or saddened, pleased or pained through the power of
the preoccupations that arise only from the heart. Mindfulness and
discernment see more and more clearly into these things, step by
step, and then turn to see that all the fault lies with the mind.
They no longer praise or blame other things as they used to. Once
they have focused solely on the mind, which at the moment is the
culprit, the time won't be long before they can catch the culprit
and put an end to all our concerns.
then. Whatever thoughts that may be formed are all an affair of the
mind. The 'tigers and elephants' it forms are simply sankharas
it produces to deceive itself. Mindfulness and discernment are up on
events every time. Now the current of the cycle (vatta) keeps
spiraling in, day by day, until we can catch the culprit but we
can't yet sentence him. We are now in the stage of deliberation to
determine his guilt. Only when we can establish the evidence and the
motive can we execute him in accordance with the procedures of
'Dhamma Penetration.' This is where we reach the crucial stage in
mindfulness and discernment.
beginning, we used the elements and khandhas as our objects
of investigation, cleansing the mind with elements, using them as a
whetstone to sharpen mindfulness and discernment. We cleansed the
mind with sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations,
using them as a whetstone to sharpen mindfulness and discernment;
and we cleansed the mind itself with automatic mindfulness and
discernment. Now at this stage we circle exclusively in on the mind.
We don't pay attention to matters of sights, sounds, smells, or
tastes, because we have already understood and let go of them,
knowing that they aren't the causal factors. They aren't as
important as this mind, which is the primary instigator the
culprit renowned throughout the circles of the cycle, the agitator,
the disturber of the peace, creating havoc for itself only right
Mindfulness and discernment probe inward and focus right here.
Wherever this mind goes, it's the only thing causing harm. So we
watch patiently over this culprit to see what he will do next and
aside from being alert to what he will do, we also have to use
discernment to penetrate in and see who is inciting him. Who stands
behind him, so that he must be constantly committing crimes? He
keeps creating deceptive issues without pause why?
Mindfulness and discernment dig in there, not simply to pounce on or
lay siege to his behavior, but also to go right into his lair to see
what motivating force lies within it. What is the real instigator?
There has to be a cause. If there's no cause, no supporting
condition to spin the mind into action, the mind can't simply act on
simply acts on its own, then it has to be a matter of khandhas
pure and simple but here it's not pure and simple. Whatever
behavior the mind displays, whatever issues it forms, all give rise
to gladness or sadness. This shows that these conditions aren't
'simply' coming out. There's a cause. There's an underlying
condition that sends them out, making them give rise to real
pleasure and pain when we fall for them.
we are exploring inward at this point, we have already seen that the
mind is the culprit, so we must consider letting go of all external
things. Our burdens grow less and less. There remain only the issues
of the mind and the issues of formation and interpretation that
arise solely from the mind. Mindfulness and discernment spin
whizzing around in there and ultimately come to know what it is that
causes the mind to form so many thoughts giving rise to love, anger,
and hate. As soon as it appears, the heart knows it; and when the
heart knows it, the 'Lord of Conventional Reality,' which is blended
with the mind, dissolves away.
point the cycle has been destroyed through mindfulness and
discernment. The mind is no longer guilty, and turns into a mind
absolutely pure. Once the problem of the cycle is ended, there is no
way that we can find fault with the mind. When we could find
fault, that was because the fault was still in the mind. It was
hiding in the mind. Just as when criminals or enemies have taken up
hiding in a cave: We have to destroy the cave as well, and can't
conserve it out of affection for it.
Avijja unawareness is the lord of the three levels of
existence that has infiltrated the mind, and thus we have to
consider destroying the entire thing. If the mind isn't genuine, it
will dissolve together with unawareness. If it's genuine in line
with its nature, it will become a pure mind something peerless
because all things counterfeit have fallen away from it through the
use of mindfulness and discernment.
the counterfeit things that are like rust latching firmly onto the
mind finally dissolve away through the power of mindfulness and
discernment, the mind becomes genuine Dhamma. You can call it 'the
genuine mind' or 'the genuine Dhamma': There's no contradiction,
because there is no more reason for contradiction, which is an
affair of defilement. You can say 100% that the flavor of the Dhamma
has surpassed all other flavors. When the mind is pure Dhamma, it
has had enough of all other things. It is absolutely no longer
involved with anything else at all. It's one mind, one Dhamma. There
is only one. There is only one genuine Dhamma. The mind is Dhamma,
the Dhamma is the mind. That's all that can be said.
each of you to take this and contemplate it. This is the basis for
the truth of the teachings that the Lord Buddha taught from the
beginning until the moment of his total nibbana. The purity
of his mind was a deeply felt Dhamma that he experienced with his
full heart. He then proclaimed that Dhamma, with the benevolence of
his full heart, teaching the world up to the present.
his teachings, 'the benevolence of the Lord Buddha' shouldn't be
wrong, because he taught the world with true benevolence. When we
take those teachings and put them into practice in a way that goes
straight to the heart, we will come to see things we have never seen
before, never known before, within this heart, step by step, until
we reach the full level of practice, know the full level of
knowledge, and gain release from suffering and stress with our full
hearts, with nothing left latching on. This is called wiping out the
cemeteries the birth and death of the body and mind for good.
What a relief!
that we've reached this point, I don't know what more to say,
because I'm at a loss for words. I ask that you as meditators
practice, train yourselves and explore all Dhammas until you too are
at a loss of words like this speaker at his wits' end. Even though
we may be stupid, infinitely stupid, I'll ask to express my
admiration straight from the heart.
Feelings of Pain
Discourse on Good Omens (Mangala Sutta), the Buddha teaches
us to associate with sages, and not with fools. The first and
foremost fool here is our own heart. In other words, there are
fools outside and fools inside, and for the most part the fools
inside are the ones who keep stirring up trouble all the time. When
we live with meditation masters, which is called associating with
sages, we keep gaining lessons from sages, because that's what they
are. They are wise in the various tactics they teach us. They have
practiced and gained knowledge of everything from experience. Their
teachings are thus correct, precise, and convincing to those who
listen to them, with no room for any doubt.
particular, Venerable Acariya Mun: There never was a time when he
would teach saying, 'It seems to be like this. It seems to be like
that.' There was nothing but, 'This is the way it is for sure, for
sure' and we were sure, because he spoke only the absolute
truth taken right from a heart that had already known and seen, and
from his own well-conducted practice. Especially in the case of
illness: If there were any weak-willed cases, he would tell them,
'Whoever is weak, whoever cries and moans, can take his moans as his
medicine. There's no need to search out medicine anywhere, no need
to have anyone to look after him. His moans are his medicine. If
moaning serves any purpose, then why search for medicine to treat
would add, 'Keep moaning. Everyone can moan. Even children can moan
if it serves a purpose. But here it doesn't serve any purpose at
all other than to annoy those good people who are unflinching in the
practice. So you shouldn't moan out of weakness. You're a meditation
monk. When you act like this, who can bear to see it? If you were a
child or an ordinary person, there wouldn't be anything wrong with
it, because they haven't received any training. They don't have any
knowledge or understanding of the various ways to contend with the
pain, such as contemplating it.
you, you already know everything of every sort. Yet when trouble
comes, such as illness, you can't find any methods or tactics to
care for yourself. You just go all to pieces. This won't do at all.
You're a shame to yourself and your fellow meditators.'
Venerable Acariya Mun was very talented in teaching the heart. When
those of his disciples who were intent on studying with him would
listen to anything he'd say, it would go straight to the heart.
Straight to the heart. The things we should put into practice, we
would put into practice. The things we should understand right then,
dealing with internal matters, we would understand every time,
step after step.
were ill, he would teach us how to contemplate. 'When you have a
fever, where did you get it from?' He'd say this so as to serve a
purpose, as food for thought for meditators. 'From where did you
drag out the fever and chills? They arise in this body, don't they?
When they disappear, where do they go, if not back to where they
came from? Even if they don't disappear, they die together with each
of us: There are no exceptions at all in this body. Investigate it
so as to know it.
stress, all pains are Noble Truths. If we don't investigate them,
what are we going to investigate? The Buddha gained Awakening with
the Noble Truths, his disciples gained Awakening with the Noble
Truths so are we going to gain Awakening with weakness? Would that
be in keeping with the Dhamma of the Buddha? Then we've come to
resist the Dhamma!
does the pain arise? In which part? Ask so as to find out. When it
hurts here and aches there, who is it that hurts? Who is it
that aches? Probe on in to find what instigates it. Where does it
come from? Where does it hurt? What causes it to hurt? What
perceives it as pain? When the body dies and they cremate it,
does it hurt? Who is it that deceives itself into thinking that this
hurts or that aches? Investigate so as to find its initial causes.
you're a meditator who doesn't know initial causes and doesn't know
their effects this heap of suffering then how are you going to
cure suffering? What is your discernment for? Why don't you think?
Why don't you find it and put it to use?
'Your mindfulness and discernment are for keeping things in mind and
investigating them things such as feelings of pain that exist
in your body and mind.'
would keep stressing his points, step by step. If the person
listening was intent on listening and especially if he had any
fighting spirit he'd find it easy to grasp the point, and it would
appeal to him immediately. Immediately.
we'd leave Venerable Acariya Mun to live in any spot suitable for
the practice, his teachings would seem to reverberate through the
heart. You could remember every facet of his teachings, every
important point that should be used as a tool in the practice. For
example, if you were staying in a challenging place, it was if he
were right there in the heart. The heart would be really
audacious and exultant in practicing, knowing the Dhamma, seeing it,
understanding it. You would understand with audacity, and with a
warrior's spirit not by being discouraged, irresolute, or beating
a retreat. That's not the way to make the defilements fear you and
disappear from the heart. That's not at all the way to cure
defilement, to know the affairs of defilement or to be able to
the religion! There is nothing to compare with it in being so
correct, so precise, so genuine, so true, so indisputable. If we all
were to follow the principles of the religion, there would be no
need for prisons or jails. What need would they serve? Nobody would
be doing any wrong! People would see in line with reason and
acknowledge their rightness and wrongness, their good and their
evil, using the principles of reason as their standard. We human
beings would then be able to live with one another.
reason we need laws, prisons, and jails is because we don't admit
our wrongs. When we're wrong, we don't admit that we're wrong. Even
the moment after we see ourselves do something wrong, we won't admit
to it. Even when we're put in jail and are asked, we still say,
'They accused me of stealing this and stealing that' even though
we ourselves actually stole it. This is simply an unwillingness to
admit to things in line with reason, in line with the truth. Even
within the heart, with things that concern us exclusively, the same
holds true: We don't admit to them, which is why we receive so much
pain and suffering. If we admit to the principles of the truth, the
things that appear in line with the truth can be resolved through
the truth. For example, even when pain arises in the body, it won't
disrupt the mind because our knowledge is wise to it.
principles of the Dhamma say, pains have been appearing in our body
and mind ever since we first became aware of things. There is no
reason for us to get excited, frightened, or upset by them to the
point where they disease the mind.
why mental development, or meditation, is an excellent science for
gaining knowledge on all fronts: Those who practice consistently are
not upset when pain arises in the body. They can even focus on the
spot where the pain arises so as to investigate and analyze it in
line with its truth until gaining skillful and courageous tactics
for dealing with it admirably.
important point is to associate with sages, wise people, those who
are sharp and astute. If we aren't yet able to depend on ourselves,
we have to depend on our teachers to instruct us. If we listen
often, their teachings gradually seep into us and blend with our
temperament until our mind becomes a mind with Dhamma. Our mind
becomes a sage, a wise person, and can eventually take care of
itself, becoming 'atta hi attano natho' its own mainstay.
every activity where we aren't yet capable, we first have to depend
on others. In living with those who are good, we are bound to find
peace and happiness. Our traits come to mesh with theirs this is
important until our own traits become good and admirable as well.
It's the same as if we were to associate with bad people: At first
we aren't bad, but as we associate with them for a long time, our
traits blend themselves with theirs until we become bad without
being aware of it. When we are fully bad, this makes us even more
blind. We feel that we've become even better. No one else can push
us around. Otherwise our 'goodness' will jump into action the
'goodness' of a bad person, an evil that wise people everywhere
people and good people. Evil and good. These things get turned
around in this way. Bad people thus can't see the truth that they
are bad, and so flatter themselves into thinking, 'I'm good. I'm
smart. I'm clever. I'm one of the most renowned operators around.'
That's how they twist things!
this reason, associating with meditation masters, with sages, is
important for anyone who is striving to become a good person, who is
hoping to prosper and be happy, because sages will teach us often.
Their manners and deportment that we see day after day will
gradually seep into and nurture our minds. We can hold to them
continually as good examples, for everything they do in every way is
Especially if they're people devoid of defilement, then there is
nothing to compare with them. Like Venerable Acariya Mun: I'm
certain that he was devoid of defilement. After hearing the Dhamma
from him, I had no doubts. He himself never said that he was devoid
of defilement, you know. He never said that he was an arahant or
anything, but he would say it in his ability to explain the true
Dhamma on every level in a way that would go straight to the
heart and erase all doubt for all those who came to study with him.
This is why I can dare to say unabashedly that Venerable Acariya Mun
Bhuridatta Thera is one of the important arahants of our day and age
an age in which arahants are exceedingly rare, because it's an age
sadly lacking in people practicing the Dhamma for the sake of
arahantship. Instead, we practice to eliminate arahantship by
amassing all kinds of miscellaneous defilements. This holds for all
of us, so no one is in a position to criticize anyone else.
return to the subject of feelings: To investigate feelings of pain
is very important. This is something I learned from Venerable
Acariya Mun. He took this very seriously whenever any of the
meditators in his monastery became ill. Sometimes he would go
himself and ask, 'How are you contemplating your illness?' Then he'd
really emphasize the Dhamma. 'Go probing right there. Wherever
there's pain, investigate so as to see the truth of the pain.' He'd
teach how to investigate: 'Don't retreat. To retreat is to enhance
a warrior, you have fight using discernment. This is what will bring
victory: the ability to keep up with the feeling of pain that you
hold to be an important enemy. Actually, that feeling isn't anyone's
enemy. It doesn't have any sense of consciousness at all. It's
simply a truth that's all. So investigate on in. You don't have to
anticipate it or concern yourself with whether it's a big pain or a
small pain. All that's asked is that you know its truth with your
own discernment, so that the heart won't deceive you.' That's what
he would say.
Actually, our heart is deceit incarnate, because that which deceives
is within the heart and fools the heart into making assumptions and
interpretations. Stupidity has an easy time believing lies. Clever
people have an easy time deceiving stupid people. Deceit has an easy
time fooling stupidity. The cleverness of the defilements gets along
well with our own stupidity. This is why the Dhamma teaches us to
ferret things out to investigate down to their truth and then to
believe in line with that truth. This is our means of gaining
victory step by step. Ferret out the pains that are always with you
so as to see them. Don't run away from them. Whether they're big or
small, investigate right there. Investigate right there. If you're
going to concentrate, concentrate right there. When you are
investigating its causes, no matter how great the pain, keep probing
thing we call pain: What does it depend on as its foundation? It
depends on the body as its foundation. It depends on our attention
as its means of flaring up in other words, the attention that
labels it in various ways: This is what makes pain flare up. We have
to cure this kind of attention by investigating to know both the
pain what it's like and the place where pain arises, in whatever
part of the body. Try to know clearly whether or not that spot is
example, if there's pain in the bone, in any part of the skin or
flesh, the skin and the flesh are skin and flesh. The pain is a
pain. Even though they dwell together, they are separate things,
not one and the same. The mind the knower that is aware of
these things is a mind, but it's a deluded mind, so it
assumes that this is pain, that's pain, and conflates these things
into being its 'self,' saying, 'I hurt here. I hurt there. I don't
want myself to be pained. I want the pain to vanish.' This desire is
a defilement that encourages pain and suffering to arise. The heart
is pained. The feeling of pain in the body is pain. The pain in the
heart flares up with that pain, because it wants it to follow the
heart's desires. These things keep feeding each other. This is our
own stupidity, loading us down with suffering.
intelligent, we have to investigate, to watch the feeling of pain in
the heart. What does it come from? What does it depend on? It
depends on the body. Which part of the body? From what spot in the
body does the pain arise? Look at the body and the feeling: Are
they one and the same thing? What kind of shape and features do
they have? The feeling doesn't have any shape or features or a
posture of any kind. It simply appears as a feeling of pain, that's
the body, it has a shape, a color, and complexion and it stays as
it was before the pain arose. When the pain arises, it stays just as
it was. Actually, the pain is something separate from this.
It simply depends on a malfunction of the body to arise. The mind is
what takes notice of it. If the mind has any discernment, it should
notice it in line with its truth. The mind then won't be affected by
it. But if the mind is deluded, it latches onto the pain in other
words, it pulls that pain in to be its 'self' and then wants that
pain, which it says is its self, to disappear.
why we can't analyze it. Once the pain is our self, how can we
separate it out? If it's simply a pain, a separate reality, then the
body is a separate reality. They aren't one and the same. Each one
exists separately. Each is a separate reality in line with its
nature. Only when our awareness is like this can we analyze things.
long as we see the pain as our self, then we can analyze it all day
long and not get anywhere, because once we hold that, 'This is
myself,' how can we analyze it? We haven't separated these things
with discernment, so we have to keep holding onto them as our self.
When the khandhas and the mind blend into one, we can't
analyze them. But when we try to use mindfulness and discernment to
investigate in to see the truth of these things that each exists
separately, each has its separate reality, which holds true for us
and for everyone else and this realization goes deep into the
heart, then the pain gradually fades away, fades away. At the same
time, we know what makes the connection from the pain into the
heart, because the connection comes from the heart. When we
investigate the pain, it comes retracting into the heart. All the
affairs of pain come from the heart that labels or that experiences
mental pain because of an insidious connection by way of attachment
(upadana) that we don't yet know.
investigate so as to see clearly, we follow the feeling of pain
inward. We come in knowing, knowing. The pain keeps retracting and
retracting, into the heart. Once we know that the heart is what
created the attachment, making itself construe the pain to be
itself, creating a great deal of suffering-once we know this, the
alternatively once we know this, the pain stays real, but the
heart doesn't latch onto it. Even though the pain may not disappear,
the mind is the mind. It doesn't make any connection through
attachment. Each is its own separate reality. This is called the
mind being its own self cool, calm, and collected in the midst
of the pain of the khandhas. This is to know that the mind is
a reality just as each khandha is a separate reality.
the path for those who are practicing so as to become wise to the
five khandhas, with feelings of pain as their primary focus.
those who understand all the way, to the point of reaching 'the
unshakable mind, the unshakable Dhamma' (akuppa-citta, akuppa-dhamma)
that can't be provoked into being anything else, there is no problem
at all. Whether pain is little or great, they have absolutely no
problem because their minds are always true. There is never a time
when their minds, which are already pure, can become defiled, can
become 'worlded.' There's no way it could happen. For this reason,
whatever conditions the khandhas may display, such people
know them in line with the principles of nature. The khandhas
themselves appear in line with the principles of nature and
disappear in line with nature. They remain naturally and then
disappear naturally. The mind knows in line with its own nature,
without having to be forced or coerced in any way. The minds of
those who know totally all-around are like this.
those of us who are investigating the khandhas to know them
and withdraw from them step by step, even though our minds are not
yet like that while we are practicing, even though our hopes aren't
yet fulfilled, still our investigation of pain is for the purpose of
separating the mind from the pain so that it's not entangled in
pain, so that whenever pain arises in greater or lesser measure, the
mind doesn't cling to the pain as being itself. We do this so as not
to gather up the pain as being our self which would be the same as
taking fire to burn ourself. When we can do this, we can be at our
is an excellent whetstone for discernment. However much pain arises,
set your mindfulness and discernment focused right there. Turn to
look at the mind, and then expand your awareness to encompass the
feeling and the body, each of which is already a separate part. The
body is one part, the feeling is another, and the mind another. Keep
going back and forth among them, investigating with discernment
until you understand and it really goes to the heart that, 'Each
khandha is simply... and that's all.' None of them appears to
be any such thing as 'you' or 'yours.' They are simply different
realities that appear, and that's all. When you understand
clearly like this, the heart becomes its own free and independent
self at that moment and it knows that the mind and the
khandhas are separate realities, neither affecting the other.
at the moment when you are about to die, the heart will be up on
events in the immediate present. It won't be shaken by pain and
death because it is sure that the mind is the mind: a stronghold of
awareness. Each khandha is simply a condition. The mind thus
doesn't fear death because it is sure of itself that it won't get
though it may not have yet reached the level where it's absolutely
devoid of defilement, the mind has still prepared itself using
discernment with the khandhas so that it's supreme. In other
words, it lives with the Noble Truths. It lives with its whetstone
for discernment. Discernment will spread its power far and wide. The
heart will grow more and more radiant, more and more courageous,
because discernment is what cleanses it. Even if death comes at that
moment, there's no problem.
thing, if you use mindfulness and discernment to investigate pain
without retreating, to the point where you understand it, then even
when you really are about to die, you'll know that the pain will
disappear first. The mind won't disappear. It will revert into
itself, knowing exclusively within itself, and then pass on at that
moment. The phrase, 'Mindfulness lapses,' doesn't exist for a person
who has practiced the Dhamma to this level. We can thus be sure that
a person with mindfulness, even though he or she may not be devoid
of defilement, will still be clearly aware at the moment when pain
arises in full force to the point where the khandhas can no
longer endure and will break apart will die. The mind will
withdraw itself from all that and revert to its 'mindness' to
being its own independent self and then pass on. This is a very
high, very refined level of Dhamma!
this reason, meditators who are resolute and unflinching for the
sake of knowing every level of the Dhamma tend to be earnest in
investigating pain. When the time comes for them to know, the
knowledge goes straight to the heart. They regard their pain as a
Noble Truth in line with the Buddha's teaching that all living
beings are fellows in pain, birth, aging, illness, and death.
investigating the khandhas so as to know them in line with
their truth, you shouldn't try to thwart or resist the truth. For
example, if the body can't endure, let it go. You shouldn't cherish
it. As for the pain, it will go on its own. This is called sugato
the way of investigating the mind and training the heart that gives
clear results to those who meditate. They have meditated in the way
I've described so that when the time of death is really upon them,
they don't hope to depend on anyone at all parents, brothers,
sisters, relatives, friends, anyone. They have to withdraw the
mind from all things that entangle and involve it so as to enter
that crucial spot where they are engaged in hand-to-hand combat.
time such as this, at the moment when you are about to die, take
pain as the focal point for investigation. Don't be willing to
retreat come what may! All that's asked is that you know and
understand this point. Don't go thinking that if you die while being
embroiled in investigating pain like this while the mind is in the
midst of this commotion you'll go to a bad bourn. Why should you
go to a bad bourn? You're embroiled, but with a noble task. You're
embroiled with knowledge, or for the sake of knowledge, and not
because of delusion. The mind is focused on investigating and
probing pain. When the time comes for it really to go, this knowing
mind the mind with mindfulness knows will withdraw instantly
into itself. It will let go immediately of the work at hand and
withdraw into itself, to be itself the mind and nothing but and
then pass on like a 'sugato' with the full capability of a
meditator, even though we may not yet be devoid of defilement.
called having full strength to our full capacity, in line with our
level of mind and Dhamma. Investigation and mental development are
thus important matters, matters on which our life and death depend.
We needn't hope to depend on anyone else at all of this we are
certain within ourselves. The heart knows within itself how strong
mindfulness and discernment are, and needn't go asking anyone else.
heart is able to investigate to the point where it can pass on at
that moment, all doubts vanish. There are no problems at all. If you
think that because you're a woman or because you're a layperson, you
can't realize nibbana, that's your own misconception, which
is one kind of defilement deceiving you.
Dhamma is a truth and everyone's common property. Whether we are men
or women, lay or ordained, we can all have mindfulness and
discernment. We can all cure our defilements. When we are willing,
any man or woman, any monk or layperson can use any of the methods
to cure defilement and gain release. We needn't create problems to
plague our hearts and waste our time. 'Since when do I have the
potential to do that?' Don't think that! You're developing the merit
and potential right now! However much or little, you can see it
right here in the mind.
should examine ourselves. Wherever we are stupid, we should develop
intelligence: mindfulness and discernment. Only then will we be
doing what is genuinely right in terms of the principles of the Lord
criticize ourselves, thinking, 'That person is on this level or that
level while we don't have any level at all; wherever we go, this
person gets ahead of us, that person gets ahead of us,' actually
nobody is getting ahead of us except for the defilements that get
ahead of us and deceive us into feeling inferior and depressed, into
thinking that we have only a little potential. That's simply a
misconception aimed at making us discouraged and self-pitying,
because defilement is looking for a way to kill us without our
shouldn't think in those ways. We are full of potential all of us.
And why shouldn't we be? We're meditators. We're all devoted to
making merit. Potential isn't something we can set out on the market
to compete with one another. Every person has potential within him
or herself. We're taught not to belittle one another's potential.
Even with animals, we're taught not to belittle them think of
that! because potential lies in the heart of every person and
curing defilement, you needn't waste time thinking those things.
They'll simply ruin your morale and your resolve. To think, 'I'm a
worthless woman... a worthless man... a worthless monk... a
worthless layperson. I don't have any paths or fruitions at all.
Other people have them, but I don't. I'm ashamed to show them my
face' these are wrong thoughts that will spoil your resolve in
developing the various forms of goodness.
right way to think is this: 'Right now I'm making an effort, with
mindfulness and discernment, to cure defilement and to develop what
is good and meritorious step by step, which is the direct way to
develop my perfections (parami). I have the potential. I was
born in the midst of the Buddha's teachings and have developed the
potential and the perfections to my full capacity all along up to
can have mindfulness and discernment just like men, because women
and men both have defilements, and defilements are cured with
mindfulness and discernment backed by persistent effort both by
men and by women. And where do they have defilements? They both have
defilements in the heart. When mindfulness and discernment are
complete, women and men can both pass over and beyond with no
question of their having to be ordained.
the truth of the Noble Truths, which are not particular about
status, nationality, or any of the human races, and which are not
particular about the male or the female sex. All that's asked is
that we strive, because the Dhamma is common to us all. Women and
men, lay and ordained, we can all listen to it, understand it,
practice it, and cure defilement.
defilements don't favor men or women. We all have defilements. Even
monks have defilements: What do you say to that? Monks thus have to
cure their own defilements. If they don't, they lie buried in
defilement just like people in general who aren't interested in the
Dhamma or even worse than people in general.
Dhamma thus doesn't stipulate that it's only for those who are
ordained. What is stipulated is that we cure defilement with
persistent effort. This is something very important. We have to be
very interested in this point.
release from suffering and stress, where do we gain release? We gain
it right here, right where there is suffering. If we can cure
defilement, we gain release from suffering. If we can't, then no
matter what our sex or status, we all have to suffer.
This is where the religion lies, here in the heart. It doesn't lie
anywhere else. If we want to be incapable of it, we can be incapable
right here in our heart. Whether lay or ordained, we can be
incapable if we make ourselves incapable. Or we can make the
religion flourish in our heart that we can also do. When the
religion flourishes, where does it flourish? In the heart, and
nowhere else. The important point is the heart. The important
point is our practice: the actions, the manners we display. When the
heart develops, the various aspects of our behavior develop
beautifully. Admirably. In particular, the heart flourishes within
itself. It has mindfulness and discernment looking after it
constantly. This is called a flourishing heart. The defilements can
hardly ever come to damage it: That's when the religion flourishes.
should make an effort to examine and straighten things out step by
step. The defilements, you know, are no wider or greater than the
limits of our ability to cure and remove them. They're only here in
the heart, so investigate right here. Whether we're men or women,
lay or ordained, we all have defilements in our hearts. No matter
how thick they may be, if we consider them we can know them. They're
like darkness: Even though darkness may have existed for aeons, all
we have to do is turn on a light, and the darkness disappears
completely. The darkness doesn't have any way to brag, saying, 'I've
been dark for aeons, so there's no way that this puny light can
chase my darkness away.' When the causes are ready, the darkness has
to disappear completely, and brightness appears in its place.
Even though the darkness may have existed for aeons, it all vanishes
in that instant.
though the defilements may be thick and may have been lording it
over our heart for a long time, we should investigate them
thoroughly with mindfulness and discernment. When mindfulness and
discernment are capable, they immediately become all-around. The
defilements, even though they may have been in the heart for aeons,
will immediately disintegrate, in the same way that the darkness
that had existed vanishes as soon as a light is lit. Brightness
arises instead, through the power of mindfulness and discernment.
Within the heart it is dazzlingly bright at that moment with 'dhammo
padipo' the light of the Dhamma.
all there is. This is the important point we have to investigate. Be
sure to see it. The religion is marvelous where is it marvelous?
The religion flourishes where does it flourish? The Buddha says to
gain release from stress where is it gained? It exists only here
in the heart. To analyze it, there are the four Noble Truths:
stress, its origin, its cessation, and the path.
Stress (dukkha): We know it's stress because we aren't dead.
origin of stress (samudaya): This is what fosters or produces
stress. What forms does it take? We're taught, 'Craving... embued
with passion and delight, relishing now here and now there; i.e.,
craving for sensual pleasure, craving for being, craving for
not-being.' This we know. Whatever the mind may love or crave, we
should try to straighten it out. It loves and craves the five
khandhas, and especially the five khandhas that it says
are 'me.' So try to become wise to these things, step by step.
then there's more love and craving: love and craving for the mind,
attachment to the mind, cherishing the mind. So straighten out the
mind. Wherever it feels love, that's where defilement is.
Keep going in, straightening things out, until you've reached the
truth. Then the heart will have no love or hate, because they are
all gone. The defilements are all gone. The mind has no love, no
hate, no anger. It's a pure principle of nature within itself. This
is the nature we truly want.
Investigating for the sake of Dhamma: This is the path (magga),
with mindfulness and discernment its important factors.
cessation of stress (nirodha): Stress stops, step by step,
until the path is fully capable and nirodha stops all stress
in the heart without leaving a trace. When nirodha has
finished stopping stress, that which knows that stress has stopped
and defilement has stopped... that which knows is 'the pure one.'
This pure one lies beyond the Noble Truths as a marvelous,
Noble Truths are activities, conditions, conventions. Even
nirodha is a convention. It's the activity of stopping stress.
It's a conventional reality. When stress is completely stopped,
nothing remains. All that remains is an entirely pure awareness.
This is not a Noble Truth. It's the purity of the mind. If you want,
you can call it nibbana. There's nothing against calling it
whatever you want. When we reach this level, there are no conflicts
no conflicts, no disagreements with anyone at all. We don't
conflict with ourselves; we don't conflict with anything. Our
knowledge is wise to everything, so we can say what we like. There
are no problems at all. All I ask is that you know this marvelous,
extraordinary Dhamma. Its excellence exists of its own accord,
without our having to confer titles.
then, is the genuine religion. Probe right here. Probe on in. When
in the practice of the religion we come to know, we'll know right
here. If the religion is to flourish, it will flourish right here.
The Buddha, in teaching the beings of the world to gain release from
suffering, taught right here and release is gained right here,
nowhere else. We qualify as beings of the world and lie within the
net of the Buddha's teachings. We're in the Buddha's following. Each
of us has the right to practice and remove defilement so as to go
beyond suffering and stress. All of us in the four groups of the
Buddha's following (parisa) have the right to realize
ourselves and reach nibbana.
ask that you contemplate. Investigate. Be brave in fighting the
things that should be fought within the heart. Develop courage.
Develop mindfulness and discernment until they are sufficient.
Search for various tactics for probing: These we should develop
within ourselves. To probe on our own is the right way. It's our own
wealth. Teachers lend us bits and pieces, which are merely fragments
to serve as hints or as leads for us to contemplate so that they'll
grow and branch out into our own wealth.
Dhamma that's a wealth coming from our own tactics: That's truly
our own wealth. We'll never exhaust it. If we can think and
probe cunningly in removing defilements until they fall away
completely, using the tactics we develop on our own from the ideas
our teachers lend us as starting capital, that's our own Dhamma.
However much may arise, it's all our own Dhamma. What we derive from
the texts is the Buddha's and we borrow it from him. What we get
from our teachers, we borrow from them except when we are
listening to them teach and we understand the Dhamma and cure
defilement at that moment: That's our wealth while we are listening.
After that, we take their tactics to contemplate until they branch
out through our own ingenuity. This is our own wealth, in terms both
of the causes our contemplation and of the outcome, the
satisfactory results we gain step by step all the way to release
from suffering and stress and that's entirely ours. It stays with
us, and no one can come to divide up any of our share at all.
is where the excellence becomes excellent. It doesn't become
excellent anywhere else. So try to find the excellence, the
peerlessness that lies within you, by striving and being energetic.
Other than this awareness, there's no excellence at all.
present the heart is concealed by things that are filthy and
worthless, and so it too has become something that lacks its proper
worth. Right now we are washing it, peeling away the various kinds
of defilement, step by step. When we have used our full strength to
peel them all away until there aren't any left in the heart, then
the heart is fully pure. Excellence appears here in this heart and
so the excellence is excellent right here. We don't have to search
anywhere for anything more, for we have fully reached the 'land of
then. I'll ask to stop here.
human beings are like trees: If we water a tree, fertilize it, and
keep looking after it, it will be fresher and grow faster than it
normally would if we let it fend for itself without our help. The
mind, when we keep looking after it, will become more and more
radiant and peaceful, step by step. If it isn't trained, it's like a
tree that isn't looked after. Whenever it lacks training, it begins
to act tarnished and defiled because the things that tarnish and
defile it are already there inside it.
look after the mind continually with meditation, it will gradually
become more and more calm. When it's calm, it will begin to develop
radiance along with its calm. And once it's calm, then when we
contemplate anything, we can penetrate into the workings of cause
and effect so as to understand in line with the truths that appear
both within us and without. But if the mind is clouded and confused,
its thoughts are all worthless. Right becomes wrong, and wrong
becomes progressively even more wrong.
are taught to train the mind so that it will be quiet, calm, and
radiant, able to see its shadows, just as when water is limpid and
clear: We look down into the water and can see clearly whatever
plants or animals there are. But if the water is muddy, we can't see
anything when we look down into it. No matter what's there in the
water plants, animals, or whatever we can't see them at all.
same holds true with the mind. If it's clouded, then we can't see
the harm of whatever big or small is hidden within it, even
though that harm has been bad for the mind all along. This is
because the mind isn't radiant. For this reason, a mind clouded with
muddy preoccupations can't investigate to the point of seeing
anything, which is why we have to train the mind to make it radiant,
and then it will see its shadows.
shadows lie buried in the mind. In other words, they're the various
conditions that come out of the mind. They're called shadows and
we're forever deluded into being attached to these shadows that come
from the thoughts constantly forming and coming out of the mind at
all times. They catch us off guard, so that we think 'this' is us,
'that' is us, anything at all is us, even though they are simply
shadows and not the real thing. Our belief or delusion, though,
turns them into the 'real thing.' As a result, we end up troubled
present, the great respected meditation masters on whom we depend in
the area of the practice and in the area of the mind are falling
away one by one. Those who are left can barely take care of
themselves. Physically, they are wearing out step by step like
Venerable Acariya Khao. To see him is really heart-rending. When the
body reaches its final extremity, it's as if it had never been
strong or in radiant health. To lie down is painful, to sit is
painful whatever the position, it's painful. When the time comes
for pain to come thronging in, the khandhas are nothing but
pain. But for people like this, it's simply a matter of the body and
the khandhas. In the area of the mind, they have no more problems
about the behavior of the body or the khandhas at all.
for us, well, we're always there welcoming such problems. No matter
whether it's the body or the thoughts of the mind that are acting
adversely, the mind begins to act adversely as well. For example, if
the body is malfunctioning, the mind begins to malfunction too, even
though there is nothing really wrong with it. This is due to the
mind's own fear, caused by the fact that mindfulness and discernment
aren't up on the events surrounding the mind.
why we're taught to train our mindfulness and discernment to be
capable and bold, alert to events arising within the mind and around
it namely, in the various aspects of the khandhas when they
behave in adverse ways. We have to be alert to these things. All
that's needed is for the mind not to be alert, or for it to be
deluded by these things, and it will create stress and pain for
itself without ceasing. Pain will have to come pouring in to
overwhelm it. Even though the body may be pained simply in
accordance with its own affairs, in accordance with the principles
of nature, the mind will still grab hold of it to cause pain
for itself, to burn itself, if it hasn't investigated to see through
mind has mindfulness constantly governing and guarding it, then
whatever damage arises will be minor, because it arises in a single
spot within the mind and mindfulness is there at the same spot,
alert to the fact that this is arising, that is arising, good or
evil is arising within. Discernment is what unravels, contemplates,
investigates, and remedies the different preoccupations arising in
the mind. Things then begin to calm down. But if mindfulness is
lacking, things begin to get drawn out. Even though
thought-formations may arise and vanish, one after another,
countless times, saρρa labels and interpretations don't
vanish. They connect things into long stretches. Stress and pain
will then have to connect into long stretches and gather into the
heart is what then reaps all this suffering by itself because of the
acts (kamma) that saρρa and sankhara fashion.
The heart is the primary vessel for receiving both pleasure and pain
and for the most part it receives pain. If it lacks mindfulness
and discernment, it receives only fakes and scraps. Rubbish. Things
toxic and dangerous. But if it's mindful and discerning, it can pick
and choose. Whatever isn't good, it picks out and throws away,
leaving only the things of substance and worth within the heart. The
heart is cooled, but not with water. It feels pleasure, but not
because of external things. It's cool from the Dhamma. It feels
pleasure in the Dhamma and the reason is because mindfulness and
discernment are looking after it.
attend to other things is not as difficult as attending to the
heart. All the burdens of the world converge at the heart, and so to
remove the things that have long been buried within us is very
difficult work. We may even become discouraged because we see almost
no results when we first begin. This is because the mind is still
drifting while we work. It doesn't really focus on taking its work
seriously, and so results don't appear as they should. This makes us
discouraged, weak, and dejected. We give up, thinking, 'It'd be
better to stop, because we're not getting anywhere' even though
once we have stopped it's not any better, except that the mind has a
better chance of filling itself with evil after we've stopped
striving toward the good.
assumption that says 'better' is the work of the defilements, which
are all deceivers, tricking us into being discouraged and weak.
Actually, even while we are striving, things aren't yet getting
good, even though we are practically dying to make them good. Our
heart is ready to burst because of the effort so how can things
become good once we stop? If, as we think, things were to get good
once we stop, then no one should have to do work of any sort any
more. Once we stop, everything of every sort would become good on
its own! Both within and without, things would have to be good. We
won't have to do much work. It's better to stop.
Dhamma isn't like the defilements. The defilements say, 'It's better
to stop.' It's better, all right better for the sake of
defilement, not for the sake of the Dhamma. The Dhamma is something
with which we have to keep persevering until it's good, and then
better, and then even better, continually, because we don't stop.
This work is our work, which we do for the sake of Dhamma. It's not
lazy work, which is the work of the defilements. The results of the
work will then appear step by step because we do it without ceasing.
how it is with the work of meditation. When it's easy, we do it;
when it's hard, we do it because it's work that ought to be done.
If we don't do it, who will do it for us? When the fires of pain and
suffering are consuming the heart because of the thoughts we form
and accumulate, why don't we complain that it's hard? When we
accumulate defilement to cause stress and anxiety to the heart, why
don't we feel that it's difficult? Why don't we complain about the
stress? Because we're content to do it. We're not bothered with
whether it's easy or hard. It simply flows like water flowing
downhill. Whether it's hard or not, it simply flows on its own, so
that we don't know whether it's hard or not. But when we force
ourselves to do good, it's like rolling a log uphill. It's hard
because it goes against the grain.
relinquishing the sufferings, big and small, to which the mind
submits in the course of the cycle of rebirth, some of the work just
naturally has to be difficult. Everyone even those who have
attained the paths, the fruitions, and nibbana easily has
found it hard at first. When we reach the stage where it should be
easy, it'll have to be easy. When we reach the stage we call hard,
it'll have to be hard, but it won't always be hard like this. When
the time comes for it to be light or easy, it's easy. And especially
when we've come to see results appearing step by step, the
difficulty disappears on its own, because we're completely ready for
it, with no concern for pleasure or pain. We simply want to know, to
see, to understand the things on which our sights are set.
We should study the elements and khandhas. We should keep
watch on the elements and khandhas coming into contact with
us. This is an important principle for all meditators. We should
keep watch on them all the time because they keep changing all the
time. They're 'aniccam' all the time, 'dukkham' all
the time, without respite, without stop.
Investigate. We should keep trying to see their affairs as they
occur within us, until we're adept at it. As we keep investigating
again and again, the mind will gradually come to understand more and
more profoundly, straight to the heart. The heart will gradually let
go, of its own accord. It's not the case that we investigate once
and then stop, waiting to rake in the results even though the causes
aren't sufficient. That's not how it works.
forms of striving for the good such as meditating have to go
against the grain of the defilements. All of the great meditation
masters, before becoming famous and revered by the world, survived
death through great efforts. If this were easy work, how could we
say they survived death? It had to be heavy work that required that
they exert themselves to the utmost. Most of these masters have
since passed away. Only a few are left. We hope to depend on them,
but their bodies are 'aniccam.' We can depend on them only
for a period, only for a time, and then we are parted, as we have
seen at present.
should try to take their teachings inward, as our masters, always
teaching us inside. Whatever they have taught, we should take inward
and put into practice. This way we can be said to be staying with
our teachers at all times, just as if we were to be with the Buddha,
Dhamma, and Sangha everywhere and always.
practice is the primary mainstay on which we can rely with
assurance. Depending on a teacher isn't certain or sure. We are
bound to be parted. If he doesn't leave, we leave. If he doesn't go,
we go because he and we all live in the same world of inconstancy.
There is no difference among us. What we can hold to, though, are
the basic principles of his teaching. We hold to them and earnestly
put them into practice so as to see the results, so as to seize
victory within the heart.
of this sort is the supreme victory, unsurpassed in all the world.
No other victory is its equal. We grapple to take victory over
ourselves over the defilements that we have believed to be
'ourselves,' 'us,' 'ours,' for aeons and aeons. This is an enormous
undertaking. If you play at it, like children playing with dolls,
the defilements will crush you to bits in no time, because you've
been holding onto them for so long. So don't delay. Investigate so
as to know clearly and let go, so that the mind will be clear and
free of suffering and stress, and not forever in disarray.
been accumulating the words 'us' and 'ours' for countless aeons. If
the defilements were material objects, what in the world could we
take for comparison that would be larger than the pile of
defilement, craving, and mental effluents, the pile of 'us,' the
pile of 'ours' we've been accumulating for so long? There's so much
of it that it would be beyond our strength to drag it out for
comparisons. If we were to drag it out just to pass the time between
eating and sleeping to chip at it, hack at it, poke at it, or
slash at it once or twice, hoping to break through it we wouldn't
get anywhere at all. We'd simply be grabbing at handfuls of water,
one after another. So we have to give it our all: This is where we
will gain our victory.
meditators. We can't back away from the fight with the defilements
lying within us. The word 'defilement' means simply this 'hunk of
us.' The defilements are 'us,' 'ours.' Everything that's 'us' is
actually a pile of defilements. There's no need to doubt this. If we
want to separate them out so as to see them piece by piece for what
they actually are in line with their true nature, we have to
separate them using persistent effort in the area of mindfulness and
discernment as our means of investigating and evaluating them.
separate the elements (dhatu), the four elements. Everyone in
the world knows of the four elements, but if we want our knowledge
to go straight to the heart, it has to come from the practice. If we
investigate using discernment until we see distinctly, it will
penetrate the heart of its own accord. Once it has reached the
heart, you don't have to say anything: The heart will let go of its
own accord. Once the knowledge goes straight to the heart,
relinquishment comes straight from the heart. For us to know
straight to the heart and let go straight from the heart, we have to
investigate over and over, again and again, until we understand.
assume that, 'This we've already investigated, that we've already
investigated,' by setting up expectations, counting the times
without seeing deeply enough to the level of letting go. The work
isn't done with. It really has to reach the level of 'done with,'
felt deeply within the heart, which then lets go. If it's really
done with, there's no need to investigate again, because the heart
has understood and can let go completely.
elements are already elements. Cognizance is an element. The things
that make contact are also elements. Sights are elements, sounds are
elements, all these things are already elements. As for the
khandhas within us, the body (rupa) is a khandha,
feelings (vedana) are a khandha, labels (saρρa)
are a khandha, thought-formations (sankhara) are a
khandha, cognizance (viρρana) is a khandha.
They're groups, aggregates, heaps, bits, pieces, all by their very
the mind, know that it's the 'knower' we have to test and comprehend
in the same way as the elements and khandhas so that we won't
grab hold of it as the self or as belonging to the self, which would
simply be creating a heavier burden. We must investigate it with
discernment so as to see it for what it truly is, in just the same
way. But as I've explained the investigation of the mind in a number
of talks already, you should have a fair understanding of the matter
particular, when a pain arises in the body, we should know
distinctly that, 'This is a feeling.' That's all. Don't go labeling
or interpreting it, saying that the feeling is us, the feeling is
ours, or that anything is ours, for that would simply foster more
and more defilements and bring more and more pain in to smother the
heart. Then when the feeling doesn't vanish, that would cause even
more pain in the heart, and what could we possibly find to bear it?
arise in the body. They've been arising ever since the day we were
born. The moment we came from our mother's womb, the pain was
excruciating. Only by surviving this death did we become human
beings. If you don't call that pain, what will you call it? Pains
have existed ever since way back when. You can't force them to
change their ways. The way of pain in the body is that it
continually has to show itself. Once it arises, it remains and then
vanishes. That's all there is to it arises, remains, vanishes
regardless of whether it's an external feeling or an internal
feeling, namely a feeling or mood in the mind.
particular, feelings in the body: Investigate them so as to see them
clearly. The body is the body. We've seen it clearly, known it
clearly ever since the day we were born. We can conjure it into
anything us, ours, a prince, a king, nobility, whatever, however
we want to conjure it but its truth is simply a truth, fixed and
unalterable. It doesn't change in line with what we conjure it up to
be. The body is simply the physical khandha. It has four
elements earth, water, wind, and fire gathered together and
called a person, a woman, a man, classified in endless ways, given
this name and that, but what stays the same is the body: the
'physical heap.' All the parts taken together are called the
physical heap, which is one reality. Take out any of the parts, and
each of them also has its reality. When they're gathered together,
the skin is skin, the flesh is flesh, and the same holds true for
the tendons, bones, and so forth. Even though they have names, don't
fall for their names. See them simply as individual realities, as a
the heap of feelings, it's not the body. The body isn't a feeling,
such as pain. Feeling is feeling. Whether pleasure appears, or pain
or a neutral feeling appears, it's simply a separate feeling that
you can see clearly. These two khandhas the body and
feeling are more prominent than saρρa, sankhara, and
viρρana, which arise at intervals and immediately vanish.
Feelings, however, even though they vanish, have a period in which
they remain. This you can clearly see in the practice. When pain
arises, focus on it as your target, as the point to investigate.
Don't see the pain as being yourself, for that would be going
against the true nature of feelings and the method of investigation,
and you won't be able to know the truth of the feeling as you should
with your discernment. When you don't know the truth and persist in
assuming the pain to be yourself, you'll increase the pain
enormously within the mind, because you are going against the
principles of nature, which are the principles of truth the Lord
taught us to investigate so as to see pain in whichever part of
the body it may arise simply as a phenomenon that arises, remains,
and then vanishes in its own due course. Don't get entangled in it.
Don't fashion or conjure it into being this or that, if you don't
want to be forever burdened with pain, with never a moment to put it
down. See its truth the moment it arises, remains, and vanishes.
That's all there is to feeling. Ferret it out so as to see it
clearly with mindfulness and discernment.
you have focused on a feeling, turn and look at the mind to see if
the mind and the feeling are one and the same thing. Then look at
the body and the mind: Are they one and the same? Look at them so as
to see them clearly. While you are investigating, don't send the
mind out anywhere else. Keep it right at that one spot. For example,
when investigating, focus on the pain so as to see it distinctly.
Then turn to look at the mind so as to see this awareness
distinctly. Are they one and the same? Compare them. This awareness
and that feeling: Are they the same? Can you make them one and the
same? And is the body like the mind? Is it like the feeling? Is it
similar enough to be one and the same?
This is the way we're taught to separate things so as to see them
clearly. The body is the body how can it be like the mind? The
mind is a mental phenomenon, a nature that knows, but the elements
of the body are elements that don't know. The earth elements doesn't
know, the water element doesn't know, the wind element doesn't know,
the fire element doesn't know but this mental element (mano-dhatu)
knows. This being the case, how can they be one and the same?
Similarly with the pain: It's an element that doesn't know. It's a
phenomenon. These two unknowing elements are also different: The
feeling and the body are different sorts of things. They aren't one
and the same. How could you make them one and the same?
making distinctions while investigating, look so as to see clearly
the way things actually are. There's no need to fear death. There
is no death to the mind. Don't create snares to catch yourself
and hurt yourself. There is no death; i.e., no death to the mind.
There is nothing but awareness, pure and simple. Death doesn't exist
in the mind, which is something 100% unalterable and sure.
is an assumption that has been conjured up for the mind through the
power of the mind's own delusion. The mind has conjured it up to
deceive itself. So once we've investigated in line with the truth
that the mind is not something that dies what reason will we
have to fear death? What is 'death'? We know that the elements
and khandhas fall apart. We human beings, when we've stopped
breathing, are called 'dead people.' At that moment the 'knower'
separates from the elements, so that nothing is left but physical
elements with no feelings: That's a 'dead person.'
actually the knower doesn't die, so we have to investigate in order
to see this clearly with discernment. We needn't create the issue of
death to stab or snare the heart or to obstruct the path we are
following for the sake of seeing and knowing the truth through
investigation. No matter how great or how little the pain, keep your
attention well fixed on the affairs of that pain. Use the pain as a
whetstone for sharpening discernment. Separate the pain from the
mind. Separate the mind from the pain. Be able to compare their
every aspect. Be careful not to let your attention wander while
investigating, so that you'll be able to see and know the truth
while in hand-to-hand combat with that particular khandha.
it should happen that the mind dies as the world supposes if it
should die while you're making your investigation then make sure
you know what dies first and what dies after. When does the feeling
vanish? When does the mind vanish? Where does it vanish to? Actually
the mind by nature is not something that vanishes. How can anyone
come and make it vanish?
Investigate carefully between the mind and the khandha until
the truth is absolutely clear to the heart and your doubts vanish.
This is called training discernment, developing discernment so as to
see the truth.
matter how great the pain arising at that moment, it won't have the
power to affect the mind at all. Once we see the mind as the mind,
the feeling as feeling once discernment has seen clearly in this
way that the khandhas and the mind are real in their own
separate ways they won't infringe on one another at all. The body
is simply the body and stays as it is. When the pain appears, the
body is still there. When the pain vanishes, every part of the body
remains, in accordance with its own nature. If the feeling arises,
that's the feeling's business. If it remains, that's the feeling's
business. If it vanishes, that the feeling's business. The mind is
the one who knows that the pain arises, remains, and vanishes. The
mind isn't the one who arises, remains, and vanishes like the body
or the feeling.
you have investigated this way until you're adept, then when the
chips are down, investigate in the same way. You needn't fear death,
because you're a warrior. Fear of death is not the Dhamma of the
Lord Buddha. The Dhamma is a matter of courage in the face of the
truth. This is the basic principle of the svakkhata dhamma:
the well-taught teaching. Follow in the path of this truth. If the
time comes to die, be ready to die. There is no need to fear,
because the mind doesn't die but be sure to know clearly what
is appearing at that moment. For example, the pain: What is it
like? Look at it so as to know its truth. Once you have seen its
truth, then the pain is simply a phenomenon. It doesn't have any
meaning, good or bad, at all. And it doesn't act as anyone's
enemy. It's simply its own full reality, displaying itself in
line with natural principles. The body is also its own reality,
appearing in line with its own principles. The mind is a separate
phenomenon that constantly knows and doesn't intermingle with
you have investigated so as to know all-around, the mind extricates
itself to be its own reality in full measure. The pain has its own
fullness in line with its nature; the body has its own fullness in
line with its nature, in that the mind doesn't create any turmoil,
trying to lay claim to anything of theirs. This being the case,
nothing disturbs anything else. Pain, no matter how great, has no
impact on the mind. You can smile even while great pain is arising
you can smile! because the mind is something separate, not
involving itself with the feeling. It doesn't intermingle with the
pain so as to burn itself. This way, the heart is at ease.
then, is the investigation of pain so as to comprehend it, by taking
pain as your battlefield, as a whetstone for discernment, as the
place where you temper and sharpen discernment by investigating and
dissecting the pains that arise. Single out the body and single out
the feeling. Which will vanish first, which will vanish after, try
to know in accordance with their truth. Arising and vanishing have
always been a part of their nature from time immemorial. Regardless
of whether or not you've been aware of it, these have been their
inherent characteristics. All you need to do is to investigate so as
to see in line with their truth, so as not to resist the Dhamma, and
you can live at ease.
the time comes to die, let the body die as the conventions of the
world understand 'dying.' The body falls apart, so let it fall
apart. Whatever is going to disintegrate, let it go but that which
doesn't disintegrate remains. That which doesn't disintegrate is
mind, once it has developed discernment as a standard within itself,
is really like this, with no flinching in the face of illness or
death. The mind is courageous and capable.
then. This is how we investigate our affairs the affairs of the
mind. We needn't fear death. Why fear it? The Buddha taught us not
to fear. The Dhamma doesn't teach us to fear. The truth is nothing
frightening, because it's the truth. What's frightening or
emboldening about it? Courage? There's nothing that calls for
courage. Fear? There's nothing that calls for fear. Here I'm talking
about the level where we have reached pure truth. There's no trace
of the words 'courage' or 'fear' left in the heart at all. There's
while investigating so as to reach the truth, we need to have
courage. When we are going to seize victory for ourselves, we can't
not have courage. Otherwise we'll lose. This is because we're
following the path. We need courage and daring, with no fear or
intimidation in the face of anything at all. Whatever comes our way,
we must investigate so as to know and understand it, without growing
discouraged or weak, so as to be intent on knowing and seeing it in
line with its truth everything of every sort that comes into the
range of our awareness. This is called being a warrior in the combat
between the mind and khandhas, or between the Dhamma and the
of this sort is proper and right. Once we've reached the goal, fear
disappears, courage disappears, because we have gained full victory.
Fear and courage are no longer an issue.
right now fear and courage are a critical issue for those still on
the way. Develop courage with discretion in the areas that call for
courage. Be a fighter with the things that call for fight such as
feelings of pain so as to see in line with their truth. Don't be
afraid. The Buddha taught us not to fear. Fear has the same value as
death. When the time comes, things have to fall apart. That's what's
called 'death.' But in any event, meditators have to come to know
with discernment before these things undergo their transformation.
Spread a net of discernment around yourself on all sides. Whatever
appears will be caught in the net of discernment, so what is there
to fear? What is there to be anxious about? What is there to knock
you off balance? Everything simply follows its truth, which you have
how 'warriors' investigate. Even though they're in the midst of
khandhas that are a solid mass of flame, they're calm and at
ease, with the normalcy of a mind that has completely comprehended,
without being deluded by any phenomenon. This is what's meant by one
who 'knows all around.'
Whatever the symptoms displayed by the body, if they are endurable,
we endure them. We care for the body, look after it, nourish it,
make it eat, make it sleep, make it drink, take care of it in
accordance with its nature. If its symptoms are unendurable and it's
simply going to go, then just let it go in accordance with the ways
of nature. It's a truth, so how can you thwart it? Let it go in line
with the truth. This is called letting go with knowledge that
accords with the truth. The mind feels no attachment, no regrets.
This is the basic principle of practice for one who has attained, or
is about to attain, victory within the heart.
Previously, the mind has always lost out to defilement and craving.
It has never, until now, defeated them. For aeons and aeons it has
lived entirely under the sway of the defilements to the point where
it has forgotten to realize that 'The defilements are the boss.
We're their servant.'
we're going to turn over a new us, using the principles of the
Dhamma as means to subjugate the defilements and mental effluents
that have been subjugating us, or that have been the ruling elite,
the big bosses of the cycle of rebirth, forcing the mind to go here
and there for so long. Now we're going to set our hearts on
contending with the defilements for victory so as to see the truth
of everything of every sort, with nothing to obscure our discernment
at all. At the same time, we will take victory for our own after
having been defeated for so long using the power of unflagging
mindfulness, discernment, conviction, and perseverance.
who have reached the realm of excellence through perseverance have a
dignity that outshines that of others. At the same time, they can
take pride in their own perseverance. Those who have reached the
realm of excellence through gaining victory over themselves, and no
one else, are supreme within themselves, with no creation of
animosity unlike victory in war, with which the world creates
endless animosities, like links in a chain. To gain victory over
oneself, though, is to gain the foremost victory. As the Dhamma
have jitam seyyo:
better to gain victory over oneself.'
things that have created turmoil for the heart, causing it suffering
and stress in the past, now come to an absolute stop. In what I have
been saying, don't forget that perseverance is the important
factor, the factor that supports mindfulness and discernment as
the trailblazers for the sake of progress in our work. Discernment
is very important for investigating and exploring so as to see
causes and effects. Mindfulness supervises the work, to keep our
attention from straying. When discernment has investigated so as to
see the truth of such things as the five khandhas, the
defilements will have no place to hide and so will come pouring
together into one place into the heart. They have no other place
to hold onto, no other place to attach themselves, because all such
places have been obliterated by discernment.
next stage is to lay siege to the heart, where the enemies lie
gathered, so as to disperse them from it until nothing is left.
There! That's called the death of the defilements. They die right
there, right there in the heart where they've always been.
They've lived there; and when they die, they die there through the
power of the most up-to-the-minute 'super-mindfulness' and
'super-discernment.' This is called full victory. The supreme
victory is won right here. The teachings of the religion all
converge at this point. The final stage in their practice comes to
an end right here. We finish our task right here. When we reach the
realm of release from suffering and stress, we reach it right here.
from this, there is nothing: no time, no place, no future, no past.
As for the present, we are wise to everything of every sort. We have
no more issues, no more disputes. There are no more cases in court
between defilement and the mind. Super-mindfulness and
super-discernment have sat on the bench and handed down a death
sentence for defilement and all its tribe. There is nothing left to
carry on the lineage of birth and being. At that moment, defilement
and all its tribe sink out of sight. This is called reaching
nibbana: a heart truly constant and sure.
various conditions that used to deceive the mind no longer exist.
All that remains is pure awareness. Even though the khandhas
rupa, vedana, saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana may form in
accordance with their nature, they simply go their own way, which
has no meaning in terms of defilement at all. The body behaves in
its 'body way.' Feelings pleasure, pain, neither pleasure nor
pain, which appear in the body behave in the way of feelings.
Saρρa labels, acts of recognition behave in their own way.
Sankhara the various thought-formations behave in line
with their own nature. Viρρana acts of noticing when
external objects come into contact with the eye, ear, nose, tongue,
body, and mind notice and vanish, notice and vanish, in line with
their nature, without being able to provoke the mind as before,
because the things that cause provocation have all been destroyed
without leaving a trace. These are thus called 'khandhas
pure and simple.' The mind has reached nibbana in the midst
of khandhas pure and simple. This is to reach living
nibbana: the mind purified of defilement.
who have reached this point, you know, don't ask where nibbana
is. And why should they? What is nibbana, actually? The word
nibbana is a name. The nature we call nibbana is the
actual thing. When you reach the actual thing, why ask the name? Why
ask for traces and signs? What is there left to grope for? Those who
really know don't grope, aren't hungry, don't lack because they
have reached 'enough,' completely, of everything of every sort.
That should be enough explanation for now. I ask that we as
meditators take this and contemplate it so as to see the truth I
have mentioned. We will then be complete in our hearts, as I have
described, without a doubt.
ask to stop here.
Principle of the Present
practice is to search for principles leading to the truth. To study
is like studying a plan although people for the most part don't
follow the plan but outer plans and inner plans are worlds apart.
outer plans like blueprints of a house or a building, or maps that
tell where roads and places are located the builder examines the
blueprint and follows it; the traveler follows the routes that
appear on the map, but if he gets a map that's out-of-date, there
are bound to be things that have come into being or been torn down
that don't show on the map. This can cause him to misunderstand and
to follow the wrong route.
plans, though such as the 32 parts of the body, the elements, and
the khandhas, which the Buddha taught us to study and to put
into practice so as to derive benefits from them are fixed truths,
unchanged from the Buddha's time to the present. But with these
plans within the mind, we can't act like a builder who follows the
blueprint in his hands, because that would go against the
principle of the present, which is where the Dhamma arises. For
example, when we study and understand in line with the texts and
then practice, it's hard not to speculate in reference to the texts;
and so when we practice or try to develop concentration in the mind,
we'll find that the mind has trouble growing still, because of the
while practicing the Dhamma, we contemplate or reflect on whatever
Dhamma we have studied, it's bound to get all confused, because the
mind's state is not such that these things can be contemplated,
pondered, or compared with the mind at the moment it's gathering
itself together to gain strength. This is why we shouldn't bring
anything in to disturb it at all. Let there simply be the 'Dhamma
theme,' the meditation theme we bring in to supervise the mind, as
if we were charging the mind so as to give it inner strength in
other words, so as to make it still.
the mind is still, it gains inner strength. Regardless of how much
or how little knowledge it has, no trouble or confusion results,
because the mind has its footing. It's secure. Calm. Peaceful within
itself all because of the stillness, which is a gathering of
energy. This isn't in the plan at all because while we are
practicing, we aren't concerned with the texts. We're intent solely
on developing concentration in the present until we gain results
peace, well-being, and various other satisfactory states there in
is in the plan, it's in the part that says, 'Try to make the mind
stay with just a single Dhamma theme its meditation word.' Don't
get involved with other topics at that moment. If you let it think
of the texts while practicing concentration, it won't be willing to
stick just with that practice. A great deal of extraneous knowledge
will interfere, disrupting the mind until everything is a turmoil,
and no stillness will result. This is called going against the plan
taught by the Buddha.
Whatever plans we've been given, however many, however much Dhamma
the Buddha taught, we gather it all to our own confusion. It's as if
we were building a hut and yet went around to gather up plans for
hundred-story buildings and spread them out for a look. They just
don't go together. The plan for a building and the plan for a hut
are as different as earth and sky, and yet here we are going to
gather the mind into one point, which is like building a hut. Only
after we have the strength can we then begin enlarging it into a
ultimately reach the level where we are ready to investigate, there
are no limits as to how broad or restricted it should be. The mind
can investigate everything throughout the cosmos. When we reach the
level where we should investigate, that's the level where we'll gain
firm confirmation in the mind. We'll gain knowledge and all kinds of
insights from our own investigation. This is where the fun lies
sifting, choosing with our discernment what is right and what is
wrong. We'll go back, exploring through the Dhamma we have already
studied and compare it with the causes and results in our practice
until they agree, and then we can set the matter to rest. Even
though we may have already understood clearly, we still have to gain
confirmation to give it further support, for the sake of full
conviction and certainty.
what's meant by discernment. It's not the case that if we have no
doubts then there's no reason to make comparisons. The Dhamma of the
doctrine is one thing, the Dhamma of the practice is another. We
take the Buddha's wealth and compare it with our own wealth, gained
from our practice. If they match, we can accept the matter and put
it aside, with no more concern.
particular, when we practice in line with the four Noble Truths or
the four foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana), these are
things that the Buddha described as being interconnected. If we
practice them one by one, in line with the texts investigating the
body, and then feeling, and then the mind, and then mental events
we'll be wrong the livelong day, because these things by their
nature are interconnected at all times. We can investigate whichever
aspect we want. Whichever aspect feels most natural to us, we should
start with that one first.
large, we start out by investigating the body. But when a pain
appears, we have to let go of the body and focus on the pain. We
then consider the pain in relation to the body, distinguishing
between the two so that we understand them clearly. Then we
distinguish between the pain in the body and the pain in the mind,
comparing them and distinguishing between them again. Body, feeling,
mind, and mental events lie together in the same moment. So we
separate out the body in other words, investigate it and then
separate out the feeling so as to know whether or not the body and
feeling are one and the same. Then we separate the mind from the
mental events within the mind, so as to see that each of these
events is not the same thing as the mind. To say just this much
covers all four of the foundations of mindfulness.
can't divide these things and deal with them one at a time, one
after another, the way we take one step after another while walking.
To do so is wrong. This is the way it is with the practice: When we
investigate one aspect or another of the four foundations of
mindfulness or the four Noble Truths, they all become involved of
their own accord because they are interconnected phenomena. The
Buddha says, for example,
'Investigate the body within the body.'
the phrase, 'the body within the body' means to start out with any
one of the many parts of the body. Once we have contemplated that
part until we gain an understanding, our investigation then
permeates further of its own accord, making us curious about this
part and that. This keeps spreading and spreading until it reaches
everything in the body. In other words, it covers everything and
body within the body' for example, kesa, hair of the head:
Even though we may contemplate only one hair on the head, it has an
impact on our understanding of how may hairs on the head? And then
connects up with how many parts of the body? It affects everything.
It permeates everything, because everything is interrelated. No
matter what we investigate, this is the way it goes, in line with
the principles of investigation in the area of the practice that the
Noble Ones have followed.
'Feeling': It arises in our body. Focus on whichever one point is
very pronounced. Investigate it whichever point is more painful
than the rest. When we focus on that as a starting point, our
investigation will spread to all other feelings because no matter
where they arise, they all become involved with the one mind. As
soon as we investigate a feeling, the mind and the feeling
immediately fly toward each other, and then we separate them out,
because the four foundations of mindfulness contemplation of body,
feelings, mind, and mental events are interrelated in this way.
'External feelings' refer to physical feelings, feelings of
pleasure, pain, and neither pleasure nor pain in the various parts
of the body. 'Internal feelings' refer to the feelings of pain,
pleasure, and neither pleasure nor pain in the heart. These are also
counted as feelings that occur in the hearts of ordinary people
three kinds of feelings: Even when we're meditating and the mind
enters into stillness, it still has a feeling of pleasure. But
ordinarily, people usually have feelings of pain and discontent
within the heart. If we don't investigate for example, if we've
never practiced the Dhamma these three feelings also exist, but
they're worldly feelings, not the feelings connected with the Dhamma
of those who practice meditation.
practice, and the mind is still and calm, there is a feeling of
pleasure. If the mind doesn't settle down and grow still as we want
it to, feelings of bodily and mental pain or distress arise.
Sometimes the mind is vacant, drifting, indifferent, something of
the sort. You can't call it pleasure or pain. It's simply vacant and
drifting something like that in the mind of the meditator. This
doesn't mean vacant and drifting in the sense of someone completely
oblivious. It's simply a state in the mind. This is called a feeling
of neither pleasure nor pain.
present, we aren't yet aware of these things even now, when
they're very pronounced. We aren't yet aware because we don't yet
have the discernment. When the mind becomes more refined, then
whatever appears, whatever state arises, we are bound to know, and
to know increasingly, in line with the strength of our own
mindfulness and discernment. Actually, these things are the bosses,
lording it over the heart: Okay, for once let's call them what they
are, because that's what they've actually been all along.
heart is their vessel, their seat. That's where they sit. Or you
could say it's their toilet, because that's where they defecate.
Whichever one comes along, it gets right up there on the heart. Now
pain jumps up there and defecates. Now pleasure gets up there and
defecates. Now a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain gets up there
and defecates. They keep defecating like this, and the heart is
content to let them do this, because it doesn't have the mindfulness
or discernment to shake them off and not let them defecate. This is
why we have to develop a great deal of mindfulness and discernment
so that we can fight them off.
Mindfulness is crucial. It has to keep track constantly, because
it's the supervisor of the work. No matter where discernment goes
scrutinizing, no matter what it thinks about, mindfulness sticks
right with it. Discernment contemplates and mindfulness follows
right along with it. This is why it doesn't turn into saρρa.
As soon as we let mindfulness lapse, discernment turns into saρρa,
in accordance with the weakness of the mind just learning how to
explore. But once we become more proficient in the areas of both
mindfulness and discernment, the two stick so close together that we
can say that there's never a moment when the mind's attention lapses
except when we sleep, at which time mindfulness and discernment
don't have to work, and even the defilements take a rest.
reach this level, there is never a moment where the mind's attention
lapses. This is thus called super-mindfulness and super-discernment.
How could it lapse? It stays right with 'what knows ' at all times.
Mindfulness and discernment exist together in this one mind and have
become one and the same thing. So where could they lapse? Once
mindfulness and discernment are continuous, we can speak in this
we were never able to know how much the mind scrambled, stumbled,
and fell. But when we reach the level where these things become one
and the same, then as soon as there's a rippling in the mind, we are
right there up on it. Instantly. Instantly. Whatever gets thought,
we are progressively more and more up on it. And especially if it's
a matter of defilement, then mindfulness and discernment are extra
quick. But if the mind is an ordinary mind, it doesn't know. Even if
defilements climb up and defecate on our head from dawn to dusk and
from dusk to dawn, we can't be aware of them.
area of the practice, we practice on our own and know on our own.
That's when things become clear. Let's see right and wrong clearly
within ourselves. Let's know things clearly within ourselves. Only
then can we be certain. Once we have practiced and come to know, we
can be courageous in what we say and courageous within the heart,
with no fear that we might be speaking wrongly or venturing guesses.
We are sure of ourselves from having practiced.
strip away the things that bind the heart has to be difficult. For
those who are weak-willed, it's especially difficult. There is no
way they can succeed, because they keep creating obstacles for
themselves whenever they are about to develop goodness or break away
the binding of unawareness and craving from around the heart. To
break open the binding of the wheel of rebirth depends mainly on our
being earnest and intent: That's what will clear our way. This is
why living beings don't want to touch that binding, don't want to
break it open.
earnest intent is what will lead us to know exactly how
extraordinary the things taught by the Buddha really are. When we
have this kind of earnest intent toward the Dhamma filling the
heart, then no matter how difficult things become, we won't let that
difficulty bother us or become an obstacle. We want solely to know,
to see, to understand. We feel motivated solely to think, ponder,
and investigate in line with the aspects of the Dhamma we want to
know and see.
has us engrossed day and night engrossed in our desire to know and
see, engrossed in the results we obtain step by step, engrossed in
probing and cutting away the defilements and mental effluents. These
lie nowhere but in the heart except when the heart grabs hold of
external things that are harmful and toxic, and brings them inward
to overpower itself to no purpose. The mind thus has to probe,
investigate, remedy, and slash away inside itself because these are
the things that bind the heart. The heart is what makes itself
unruly and reckless, roaming about, collecting these things to burn
itself, because it doesn't have the good sense to avoid them or
remedy them. For this reason, we need to develop a great deal of
mindfulness and discernment.
Buddha was always teaching mindfulness and discernment.
nisamma karanam seyyo:
discernment to consider before doing anything,' in order to guard
against error. Both in inner and outer activities, mindfulness and
discernment are always important. But usually when the mind thinks
of doing anything, we don't consider it first. Even if we don't
consider things while we think of doing them, we should at least
consider them when the mind has made contact with one matter or
another, and trouble arises as a result. But usually we don't see
the harm of our own recklessness, and this is why we never learn. So
we keep thinking and acting in our old ways repeatedly, and the
results are thus unceasing stress.
shouldn't guess, we shouldn't anticipate what the practice will be
like. Where is heaven? Don't guess about it. Where are the Brahma
worlds? Don't waste your time anticipating. Where is stress? Its
cause? Its cessation? The path? Don't anticipate their being
anywhere outside the body and mind that are in contact with each
other and with these various things at all times. Focus right here,
so as to see the truth in line with the principles of the Dhamma.
know what's outside; you'll know what's inside. Especially when you
know what's inside, that's when you'll gain insight into everything
that exists, in line with your temperament and abilities, without
your anticipating it. The mind will simply know of its own accord.
Your basic problem is that you don't yet know yourself inside and
simply want to know what's outside. This will only make you agitated
and confused, without serving any purpose.
want to gather matters into yourself so as to see the truth, then:
What is hell? And where is it? If you want to know hell, then go
ahead. Where is it? Where is the suffering that the defilements dig
up, the suffering they produce in ascending stages? If it doesn't
lie in the body and mind, where does it lie? If, when you let
yourself fall into hell and the fires of hell burn you day and
night, you still don't know where hell is, then where else are you
going to look for it? Bring things inward in this way so as to know
the truth: the Noble Truths that lie within you. Once you know the
Noble Truths, you'll understand every pit in hell without having to
ask anyone. Think of how much the Buddha and his Noble Disciples
knew about hell and yet who told them about it? How is it that
they were able to know and see to the point of teaching us into the
'Heaven' is the enjoyment, the sense of exhilaration in the Dhamma,
in the goodness and merit that lie within the heart, causing it to
be calm and at peace. This is your 'heavenly treasure.' The Brahma
worlds lie with the levels of the mind. No matter which level of the
Brahma worlds you want to reach, they are all levels of the mind
that indicate on their own that this mental state corresponds to
this level or that and that have the characteristics of those
levels. For this reason, you have to put 'this one' the mind
into good shape, into proper shape. Don't go concerning yourself
with anything other than this.
day, every night, we should probe into our own minds, together with
the things that become involved with them. The important factors are
the body this is very important and the five khandhas.
These things are always making contact because they have been
together with us since way back when. Things outside sights,
sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations sometimes subside,
but the five khandhas and the heart are always together and
always at issue with one another. There is no one who can decide
these issues and put an end to them unless we use mindfulness and
discernment as our judges to make a decision that will put the case
Normally, rupa, vedana, saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana
lie right with us, with the heart. They are interconnected and
interrelated to the point where no one can untangle the case and
pass a verdict, because we don't have the discernment to deliberate
and decide what verdict to pass. So we simply let issues arise all
the time: 'That hurts. This aches. I'm afraid I'll faint. I'm afraid
I'll die.' We really are afraid as if by fearing to the utmost,
straight to the heart, we could somehow escape death.
fear of death: We really fear it and yet we don't know what death
is, or who dies. As long as we haven't investigated down to the
'foundation of death,' we'll have to fear it all the livelong day.
But once we have investigated down to the foundation of death, what
is there to fear? because nothing in the world dies. There is
simply the change, the exchange of the various elements, and that's
all. Change is something we already know. The Dhamma has taught us:
'Inconstancy' things are always changing. 'Stress' where is
there if not right here? 'Not-self' this already tells us what
is there of any substance, that's 'us' or 'them'? The Dhamma tells
us with every word, every phrase, and yet we prefer to fly in the
face of the Dhamma. We want that to be us, we want this to be ours.
This wanting is an affair of defilement: That's not us, it's
simply defilement from head to toe or isn't it?
were to become our self as we say it is, wouldn't it be a heap as
big as a mountain? If every defilement of every sort were to be
gathered together, who knows how many millions of mountains they'd
be? We wouldn't be able to carry them at all. What we already have
is more than we can handle! So we should investigate these things to
see them clearly and then cut them away, one mountain at a time.
Otherwise we'll be unable to walk, because we'll be full of the
mountains of every person's every sort of defilement, and of every
sort of suffering that defilement has created to be borne on top of
the heart for such a long, long time. We should learn our lessons,
in line with what the Dhamma has taught us, so that we will have
some place to put down our burden of suffering.
Feelings these characters: These are our enemies. All they offer
us are feelings of pain or distress arising in the mind sometimes
on their own, with no connection to the body. The body may be
perfectly normal, but because of our preoccupations, feelings of
pain can manage to arise in the mind. If we think of something that
stabs at the heart, a feeling of pain or distress arises. If we
think in a way that will extricate us, a feeling of pleasure arises.
When the mind rests and stays neutral within itself, that's a
feeling of equanimity. See? We can clearly see them like this if
we reflect so as to see them. If we aren't observant, if we don't
investigate them, we won't see them to our dying day. We will simply
die in vain. Don't go thinking that we can gain knowledge and
insight, and free ourselves of suffering, without making an effort
to strive and investigate. Many, many living beings have died in
failure because of their complacency.
investigating, don't set up any anticipations that you would like to
have your different feelings disappear. That would only be
increasing the cause of stress. Simply look inside the feeling
itself when it arises. Use your mindfulness and discernment to
contemplate without let-up. Investigate until you understand.
Saρρa: This is very important. Normally, saρρa is
something very important. When pain arises, the pain is important,
but pain doesn't arise all the time. As for saρρa, it keeps
right on labeling. This is very important, very subtle, very
delicate and refined. It's deceptive, which is why it has us
Sankhara is what hands things over to saρρa, which
elaborates on them to the point where they become endless and
unstoppable unless we use mindfulness and discernment to act as a
Viρρana is what takes note.
saρρa labeling and interpreting it has a big job to do,
running around stirring up all kinds of trouble throughout the body.
Saρρa is what hoodwinks the heart, making it fall for labels
until it can't see the harm they wreak in the five khandhas.
Saρρa is the primary culprit. Meditation circles are well aware
of it, which is why they warn us.
the mind has things like this burying it, obstructing it, and
coercing it, it can't display even the least little bit of ingenious
strategy, because they have it overpowered. For this reason, we have
to force the mind to investigate and unravel its various
preoccupations so that it can see its way clear. Its various labels
and interpretations are gradually peeled off or removed, step by
step. Mindfulness and discernment are then freed to think and
develop more of their own strength. When we reach the stage where
mindfulness and discernment come out to investigate, nothing can
stay hidden. Mindfulness and discernment will probe into everything,
into every nook and cranny, understanding continually more and more
engrossed in their contemplations and explorations, engrossed in
the results that keep appearing because to probe with discernment
is a direct way of cutting defilement away so that we see results,
step by step, without pause.
Concentration is simply a tactic for herding the various defilements
into one focal point so that we can rectify or destroy them more
easily. To put it simply, concentration is strength for discernment.
When the mind gathers in the levels of concentration, it is content
to work from various angles in the area of mindfulness and
discernment. When it's working, the results of its work appear. The
defilements fall away one after another. The heart becomes engrossed
in the results of its work and investigates even more, never having
its fill, like spring water flowing continually throughout the rainy
focus right here. Don't go anywhere else. The Noble Truths are right
here in the body and heart. Ultimately, they come down solely to the
heart. Probe down into the heart. How is it that we don't know?
Where did the Buddha know? He knew right here in the area of these
four Noble Truths. He knew in the area of these four foundations of
mindfulness, which lie in the bodies and hearts of us all. The
Buddha knew right here and he taught right here. So investigate to
see clearly right here. Defilement, the paths, the fruitions, and
nibbana lie right here. Don't imagine them to be anywhere else.
You'll simply be pouncing on shadows outside of yourself and
grasping fistfuls of water, without ever meeting with the real
focusing your investigation when a feeling arises in the mind as
for feelings in the body, we've discussed them at great length
already when a feeling of stress or pain, such as a mood of
distress, arises within the mind, focus on that feeling of distress.
Take that feeling of distress as the target of your watchfulness and
investigation. Keep alert to it. Don't set up any desires for it to
vanish once it has appeared in the mind. Make yourself aware that
the feeling of distress arising in the mind has to have a cause. It
can't just come floating in without a cause. If you don't know its
cause, focus on the result the distress itself as the heart's
preoccupation. Keep aware right at the heart. Focus on contemplating
and unraveling the feeling of distress right there. Don't let go of
that feeling to go looking or investigating elsewhere. Otherwise you
will make the mind waver, without ever being able to establish a
foothold and it will become shiftless and irresolute.
long that distress will have to last, keep looking at it to see if
it's really constant, solid, and lasting. Your mind is something
more lasting than the feeling, so why won't it be able to
investigate it? The feeling arises only for a period and then
vanishes when its time is up, when it no longer has any supporting
conditions. Since the mind by its nature is something that knows,
then even though a feeling of distress arises, it still knows.
Whether there is a little distress or a lot, it knows so why won't
it be able to investigate the distress? It has to endure the
distress, because the mind is already a fighter and an endurer.
However great or little the distress, fix your attention on that
spot. Don't set up any desires for it to disappear. Simply know the
truth of the feeling as it arises and changes. Know right there and
know its every phase, heavy or light, great or little, until it
when the feeling of distress dissolves away from the heart through
your focused investigation, know what feeling arises in its place.
Keep knowing step by step. Only then can you be called an
investigator. Don't hold fast to any feelings whether of pleasure
or of equanimity. Know that they too are feelings and are individual
conditions, separate from the mind and so they can change. This
one comes in, that one dissolves away, this one takes its place:
They keep at it like this, in line with the common nature of
feelings, because the seeds are constantly in the heart, enabling
these three kinds of feelings to appear. Once the mind has
absolutely no more seeds of any sort, no feelings or moods of any
sort will appear in the mind at all, aside from 'paramam sukham'
the ultimate ease that's part of the nature of a pure heart. This
doesn't count as a feeling. When the Buddha says, 'nibbanam
paramam sukham' nibbana is the ultimate ease that's not a
feeling of ease, stress, or equanimity, and so it's not subject to
arising and disappearing.
focusing your investigation on all three of these feelings, take the
feelings themselves as your battleground. Focus on watching them
carefully and in full detail. Keep watching each one as long as it
hasn't yet disappeared. Watch it again. Keep watching until you know
its truth. Whether or not it disappears isn't important. What's
important is that you know the truth of this feeling the one
appearing in the present. This is called contemplating feeling as a
foundation of mindfulness.
this refers to feelings of distress or pain, because these are the
ones that are most striking and unsettling to the heart. As for
feelings of pleasure, they're a way-station for the mind. You could
say that they help us, or that they are the results that come from
investigating feelings of distress until the distress disappears and
pleasure appears. This is one of the results that comes from
investigating feelings of distress or pain.
whether or not we should do away with feelings of pleasure, as far
as I've noticed I've never seen them being eliminated. Feelings of
pain or distress are the important ones within the mind. They arise
from the seeds of defilement. Once these seeds are lessened step by
step, the feelings of mental pain become more and more refined, more
and more refined. They gradually fade away until they disappear
without leaving a trace in the mind, because the seeds are gone.
these seeds are gone, that type of pleasurable feeling also
disappears. It disappears because it relies on those seeds to arise.
Thus we can say that the feelings of pleasure that arise in the
heart from practice, or from the basis of the mind the stillness
of the mind, the radiance of the mind qualify as 'vihara-dhamma,'
dwelling places for the mind, way-stations for the mind on its
journey. Or we could say that they're the results that come from
investigating feelings of pain. Whether or not we investigate this
pleasure is not as important as investigating feelings of pain and
their causes which are very important, because they are in a
direct sense the origin of stress. They give rise to stress as their
context of the four Noble Truths, the Buddha teaches us to diagnose
stress, but why doesn't he teach us to diagnose pleasure? What does
pleasure come from? He doesn't say because it arises from the path
doing its duty until the cause of stress disintegrates and pleasure
arises in its stead.
when the stress that's part and parcel of defilement disappears,
this type of pleasure disappears as well, but another kind of
pleasure or ease appears along with the heart that has been purified
and this doesn't disappear with anything at all.
for concentration: When you're going to make the mind still, you
really have to make it stay with its theme of tranquillity
meditation. Don't go concerning yourself with the topics you've been
investigating, because the mind has to rest. You can't not
let it rest. When the time comes to rest, it needs rest. No matter
how great the results and accomplishments you get from your practice
of investigation, the heart can still grow tired and weary. Your
work your thinking and pondering in the area of discernment or
whatever is all work for the mind. When the mind has been
thinking, pondering, and investigating for a long time, it can grow
weary and so it has to rest. When the time comes to rest, you
shouldn't involve yourself with any work at all. Set your mind
solely on performing your duties for the sake of mental stillness.
This is called working without overstepping your boundaries; without
being worried about what went before or will come after; without
overflowing your banks. The heart will then have the strength to
continue its work with clear insight and discernment.
you want stillness of mind so as to provide strength for
discernment, you should set your mind on the theme that will make
the mind still and then stick right with it until the mind is still,
right then and there. Once the mind has been still long enough to
gain strength, you can then withdraw from that stillness. Now you
start probing. You don't have to concern yourself with stillness.
Your duty is to investigate step by step. This is called the correct
way the appropriate way, the uniform way to follow the path of
tranquillity and insight all the way to the goal.
these are problems I've been through myself. When I would get
engrossed in something, I'd be so stuck that I'd get addicted and
heedless. I'd get addicted to the stillness, the sense of comfort
and ease in concentration. When I'd get engrossed in investigating,
I'd be so engrossed that I'd forget myself and wouldn't let the mind
rest at all. Neither of these ways is correct. In other words,
neither is in keeping with what is just right.
right way is that when the mind feels tired and weary from its work,
we have to let it rest in stillness. When the time comes to
investigate, we have to investigate. We can't worry about anything
else. We have to set our mind on our duties, step by step, in
keeping with the job at hand. This is always the appropriate way to
proceed with tranquillity and insight.
is no job in the world bigger than the job of removing defilement,
of removing oneself from the cycle of wheeling around from birth to
death for countless lifetimes. When we think about it, it's really
dismaying circling around from birth to death, carrying a load of
nothing but suffering and stress. No matter what the level, the only
difference is that the stress is less or more, because all levels
have stress inasmuch as they contain the defilements that give rise
to stress. So how can they not have stress? All living beings have
to suffer stress. The Buddha thus taught us to rid ourselves of all
defilement until there is nothing left hidden in the mind. Let there
simply be the 'pure meat.' Don't let there be any bones, or they'll
be bad for your health.
Defilements, no matter what the sort, need to be cleansed away,
peeled away until nothing is left. This is why it's called a very
big job. There are times when we have to give it our all all our
skill, all our mindfulness and discernment, even our life to an
extent that we will never forget.
we're going to die, then let's die. If not, then let's know it.'
That's all there is. There can be nothing else. This is when the
mind is its own mainstay. Atta hi attano natho: It can take
care of itself. In other words, we leave it to the mind's own
strength. When the mind is whirling in for the sake of the realm
beyond suffering, as if nibbana were always just coming into
reach; while what's behind us keeps pressing in, and we realize more
and more its danger and harm, there's only one way to escape the
we're going to die, then let's die. If not, then let's know the
Dhamma.' Wherever we are, we don't want to stay. Wherever we're
stuck, we don't want to be stuck. It's a waste of our time in
gaining release from suffering. We've simply got to reach release
from suffering. This is the only thing that can satisfy such a
mind at such times. When the mind is this way, where is it going to
find any weakness or laziness? If things get tough, we fight. If
they're easy, we fight. If we're going to die, we still fight until
we have no more breath to breathe and that's when the mind finally
stays put. It can't possibly be moved. Once it knows and reaches
the goal, it stays put on its own. No matter where you chase it, it
Discernment which has been spinning itself in circles even more
than a wheel when the time comes, stops on its own. It simply runs
out of duties of its own accord, without our having to turn it off,
the way we do with motors. This automatic mindfulness and
discernment simply stops or turns off on its own because it
already knows, so what else is there to investigate? It has already
let go, so what else is there to let go? It already knows, so what
else is there to know? It has had enough, so where else is it going
to look for enough? It knows all of this within itself. It knows in
an instant and is released. In other words, it knows for the last
time. This is where the big job is finished. The job is big, and the
results are enormous. Nothing in any of the three worlds can
results of this big job, this heavy job, you know, excel the world
and how could we say that ultimate ease doesn't excel the world?
When excellence stands out, filling the heart, it's far different
from defilement standing out, filling the heart. Whoever wants to
know has to practice for him or herself. No one else can do it for
us. When we reach the level of excellence, we excel exclusively
within, without disturbing anyone else.
Dhamma is always timeless (akaliko). It has been the
guarantor of the paths, fruitions, and nibbana from the time
of the Buddha to the present. No one will ever be able to erase it.
The Buddha excelled the world because of this Dhamma. The arahant
disciples whom we revere as our refuge all excelled because of this
Dhamma of purity and because of this heavy job. When our Teacher
has led us to proceed in this way, what business do we have
shilly-shallying around? We can't act only in line with our
preferences, because our Teacher didn't lead us in that way.
foremost Teacher was a genius, an utterly genuine person, unequaled
by anyone. But we're a bunch of show-offs, doing only what our
Teacher criticized, and so we keep meeting only with things worth
criticizing. Don't we ever think of changing, or do we feel we're
being stylish and up-to-date?
Actually, the path to cure defilement has to be difficult. The path
to accumulate defilement is easy because our preferences fool us
into thinking it's easy. (Notice: They fool us into thinking it's
easy.) Actually, both paths are hard. Whatever the job, the
important point is which job we prefer. We'll see that job as easy.
first, when we were starting out with the job of curing defilement,
we weren't getting anywhere at all. Even though we were set on
curing defilement, the work was heavy and we were weak and lazy.
Everything bad and worthless was gathered right there. But now that
we gradually come to comprehend causes and effects, and to
understand the Dhamma, the results have begun to appear. Where has
our laziness gone? All that's left is diligence and persistence. We
can contend with anything, heavy or light we can contend with
death because we have begun seeing results. Even though we have
been curing defilement all along, the difference is that at one
stage we don't see results, and at another we do and persistence
things get heavy, we fight. We're disciples of the Tathagata and so
we have to follow in our Teacher's footsteps. Our Teacher met with
difficulties, so his disciples will have to meet with difficulties.
Our Teacher passed out two or three times. Is there anyone among us
who has passed out from the effort of the practice? I don't see
anyone who has. So why are we afraid of dying when we've never even
passed out? How can we be so stubborn in our fear of death? The Lord
Buddha lost consciousness three or four times. What do we have to
say to that? When we lose consciousness, it's because we are falling
asleep. Why aren't we afraid of dying then? So why are we afraid of
dying when we practice meditation? Exactly what dies?
have explored and seen the truth, we won't fear death because
nothing in the world dies. All there is, is the mind making its
assumptions. It deceives itself 'I'm afraid of dying, I'm afraid
of dying' but when it knows the truth of everything of every sort,
it's not afraid. It's not afraid of death. It's not afraid of birth
because it has nothing left to be born. So what is there to fear?
Why bother with these empty, hollow fears? The mind is now
released from birth, so why be afraid of birth? There are no
more seeds for the birth of a body, a man, or a woman. There is
nothing to fear, nothing to be brave about. The mind is even with
itself uniform, unchanging not 'even' in the ordinary sense of
'coming out even.' It's 'even' in the sense of a mind that has
reached sufficiency: 'even' in its excellence.
I've been talking about a heavy task, but also about the results as
a means of encouragement, as a means of giving the mind something to
hold to. The results are superlative, in keeping with the
difficulties and hardships of the practice. What do we want in our
lives? We all want what is good. Even in external things we want
what is good, so especially in the area of the Dhamma, why shouldn't
we want what is good?
step up your efforts. What does it matter if the cemeteries cry
because they miss you? You have been crying over the cemeteries, so
what's wrong with letting the cemeteries cry in turn? They have no
more hopes now. You aren't coming back to be born or die. The
cemeteries' being without hope is better than your being without
hope, because there's nothing good about birth and death, circling
around, back and forth, with nothing but suffering and stress every
out solutions and make them succeed. Whatever things are thorns in
the heart, use mindfulness and discernment to explore, to probe on
down and remove them completely so that they're all gone. Once
they're all gone, that's the result of your work. We've talked about
how hard the work is: What are the results like? Are they worth it?
Find out for yourself and then you are free to live wherever you
like. The Buddha says,
holy life is fulfilled, the task of the religion is done.' This
is now completely apparent in every way. Whatever is stressful
is a matter of defilement. When the cause defilement is ended,
the result stress is ended as well. That's all there is. From
then on there is nothing but ultimate ease, which nothing will ever
again come to disturb throughout eternity.
End of One's Rope
Wherever there's the religion, it's cool and peaceful. Wherever a
person practicing the religion is lacking, it's hot and troubled. If
there's no religion, the heart is as hot as fire. Whenever there's
the religion mindfulness and discernment investigating, looking
after the heart, the heart is cool.
first begin suppressing the rebels in the heart, we suffer because
for the most part we're defeated by them but at least we still
have the strength to fight with them. Even though we may lose out to
them sometimes, it's better than groveling before them in abject
surrender with no way of putting up a fight at all.
practice in the area of the mind falls into stages and there
are bound to be stages where it's complicated and difficult.
Especially at the beginning: It's difficult in that we can't see
beginnings or ends, causes or effects. We don't understand anything
at all. When we take the rudiments of Dhamma we have gained from the
texts or our teachers and put them into practice, sometimes right,
sometimes wrong, this is when it's very difficult. The desire to
know and see is very strong, but the heart isn't willing to comply.
one kind of anxiety I've been through myself. It overflowed the
heart. To put it simply, it was as if the desire to see and know the
Dhamma in the heart was ready to overflow its banks. But when
practicing, the heart didn't comply with the desire to know and see
and that had me upset and disappointed. Sometimes I'd be sitting
and the tears would flow because of my self-recriminations: 'You
don't have any potential to speak of. You've ordained simply to be a
dead weight on the religion. Here you are sitting in meditation and
can't find a way in or a way out. You're just sitting buried in a
heap of suffering.' The mind would think in all sorts of ways out of
self-pity that I was a hopeless case, that I didn't have any
potential to speak of, didn't have the potential for the
extraordinary levels of Dhamma, didn't have any potential at all
Actually, my practice wasn't yet right. I was aiming at the results
the income without paying attention to whether I was doing the
work right or wrong. The desire was strong, but when it wasn't
fulfilled, it caused suffering. Had I paid some attention to whether
my practice was right or wrong, I might have come to my senses
enough to have evaluated things, to have abandoned some of my
bullheaded attachments, or to have cut back on my desires so that
the suffering would have become lighter.
whenever I'd meditate, whatever I'd focus on, all I wanted was to
know and see the paths, the fruitions, and nibbana in line
with what I imagined them to be heaven was like this, the Brahma
worlds were like that, nibbana was like this. I'd imagine.
Speculate. The desire was fierce. I wanted to know, to see, to gain
release from suffering, but my practice wasn't making any headway.
All there was, was simple desire: I would simply sit wanting, lie
down wanting, walk wanting, stand wanting. I'd sit in meditation
wanting but the mind wasn't working at its meditation. It just
wanted. I'd be doing walking meditation, but the mind simply wanted
so much so that I'd forget what I was doing. I wasn't getting any
results because there weren't enough of the causes that would
bring about the things I aimed for, so how could I have reached the
goal I aimed for? This is something I've been through. The work
of meditation struck me as being more difficult than any other work.
meditating, 'buddho, buddho, buddho,' but the desire would
always be getting in the way because I wanted to know, I wanted
the mind to be like this or that, and so I'd get engrossed in my
desires and forget my work of meditation until I didn't know where
'buddho' had gone. As a result, I didn't get anywhere at all.
I was constantly feeling dreary and disappointed. This is the way
things always were in the heart.
even so, this wasn't anything compared to the stage at which the
mind regressed. When the mind regresses, it's really upsetting
because you used to see results. You used to gain a sense of ease,
mental stillness, and peace appearing clearly as a solid foundation
in the heart, but now it's deteriorated. This makes the heart really
agitated so much so that there is nothing to hold it in check.
Luckily, though, in spite of my agitation, I didn't retreat. I was
simply determined to see things through. I wasn't willing to retreat
or to slacken my efforts.
reason why the mind regressed and couldn't make a comeback was the
same sort of thing: desire, nothing mysterious. The mind wanted to
know and see as it had before, but its work wasn't coordinated or
continuous. All there was, was desire. No matter how much you
desire, it doesn't give any results, because that would go against
the principle of causality. If you don't make the causes as complete
as they should be, how can you expect to know as you want? You
can't. Sitting, I'd be agitated. Lying down, I'd be agitated. I'd go
into the forest, into the mountains, when the mind had regressed,
and nothing was any good at all. I couldn't figure it out.
anxieties I've felt in my life as a monk, the anxiety I felt during
that period was the worst. I was agitated because of my desire to
attain. I was upset because the mind had regressed and nothing I
could do would bring it back. At first it had regressed just a
little bit and then it kept regressing, regressing until it was all
gone. Nothing was left, not one red cent. It was as if I had never
meditated at all.
I'd sit in this state, I was as agitated as if I were on fire
because of the desire. The disappointment that my attainments had
floated away and disappeared, plus the desire to get them back:
These two things came thronging in at the same time and so were
really strong. Wherever I stayed was unsatisfactory and no help at
all. Even though I was suffering, I would simply keep suffering. I
didn't know any way out. Even though I wanted, I would simply keep
wanting. I didn't know how to get my concentration back. All there
was, was desire regret for the things that had once appeared to my
surprise and amazement but now were gone. There was nothing but
disappointment filling the heart, nothing but simple desire, and it
couldn't bring back the Dhamma that had disappeared. Finally I came
to feel despair for everything. This was when the mind gave up
on its desire.
the results I had wanted, well, I had wanted them for a long time.
As for the suffering, I had suffered immensely because of the
desires, but hadn't gained anything from them. So now I wouldn't
have anything to do with them. I'd throw them all out. If I was
going to know, I'd know. If not, so be it. All I was after was 'buddho.'
Whatever the mind was going to think, I wouldn't be willing to let
mindfulness lapse. 'Get with it, then. Can it really be that I'm not
going to know? Whatever's going to happen, I'm ready for it.'
as I gave up on my desires, they were no longer so fierce, and so
the suffering gradually lessened. I set my mind on my work. Wherever
I was, I'd keep repeating, 'buddho, buddho, buddho.' It had
always been a trait with me to be earnest: Whatever I'd do, I would
really do it and wouldn't just play around. Now I got to see this
trait in action. I didn't let up in my repetition of 'buddho.'
Whether walking or doing my chores, I wouldn't be willing to let it
lapse. I'd keep making the effort. While sweeping the monastery
compound, I would try to keep up my guard until the mind let its
work lapse for a moment. I was alert to the fact, and the mind got
right back to work. 'There. Now that's the way it should be.'
giving up its desires, the mind was no longer involved with the
past. It stayed in the circle of the present and would do nothing
but repeat or meditate on 'buddho.' Whether or not it would
get any results would depend on what 'buddho' would grant.
Finally the mind became still, and 'buddho' was no longer
necessary, so I could let go of the meditation word at that moment
and at that point the mind was willing to settle down. Before, it
hadn't been willing.
the mind had settled down in stillness, there was no need to repeat
the word 'buddho.' All that remained was simple awareness
clear and conspicuous so the mind stayed with that simple
awareness. As soon as it withdrew, I would start pumping 'buddho'
back in. I had no hopes, because I had already hoped in the past. I
had no hopes for what would happen, no hopes for what the results
would be. I had already hoped in the past, and it hadn't given me
any decent results at all. I had seen the harm of hopes the
sort of hollow, unreasonable hopes that won't do the work and look
only for the results.
I was going to do nothing but work, nothing but work: repeating 'buddho'
without letting up even for a moment. Once the mind had received
proper nourishment and care, it became still gradually more and
more still, more and more steady, until it reached the level it had
been before it had visibly regressed.
was strange was that when it reached its old level, I still
abandoned my hopes. 'If it's going to regress, let it regress. I've
had enough of trying to resist it by using desire, which hasn't
served any purpose, not the least little bit. So, however the mind
is going to regress, let it regress, but I won't abandon "buddho."
I'm always going to keep at it.'
reached the day when it would normally regress, it didn't regress!
That made me a lot more sure of the causes. So I stepped up the
causes the repetition of 'buddho' even more, without
stopping. I would stop only when the mind gathered in stillness.
The mind became progressively more and more firm. Wherever I'd sit,
it would be bright. Light. Completely clear. I was sure of myself:
'Now it's not going to regress.' After one day, two days, one month,
two months, it still didn't regress.
the mind would regress after two or three days. After two or three
days it would come down with a crash, with nothing left to show for
itself. I'd have to keep trying to care for it for 14 or 15 days
before it would reach its old level, and once it got there it would
stay just a day or two and then collapse in a flash, with nothing
left at all. All that was left was dreariness and disappointment.
'If it's going to regress, let it regress. I've hoped in the past,
and it hasn't served any purpose. All I'm after is this, just this
one thing: "buddho."'
(Speaking of the suffering when the mind regresses, you really feel
a lot of anguish, so much so that you're ready to surrender. But I
was lucky in one way, that the mind didn't retreat. It was
determined to see things through, which was why I was able to bear
with it, able to stay. Had the mind become discouraged 'It'd be
better to stop' that would have been the end of me. There would
have been nothing more to tell.)
then on, the mind kept progressing. Month after month, it became
more and more stable, more and more firm. As for my meditation word,
I wasn't willing to let up on it. This kept up until the mind was
was when I let the meditation word go. In other words, the awareness
of the mind was pronounced, and that was enough for the mind to
depend on, so there was no need to rely on any meditation word for
further support. The mind fully knew itself and could sustain
itself. At this point I didn't have to repeat any meditation word
because the mind was prominent at all times. I would focus right
there. Wherever I went, I focused right there. I knew right
there, just as I had focused on 'buddho.' It could form a
fine foundation for the mind. I was sure of myself that:
This foundation had become progressively more and more stable until
it was more stable than it had been the first time it had progressed
and then regressed.
for focusing on awareness, when awareness was fully pronounced, I
should focus on that without let-up, in the same way I had focused
on repeating 'buddho' until the mind became more and more
refined. This was a foundation for the mind on which I could depend.
that point on, I really stepped up my efforts. The time I started
sitting in meditation all night until dawn came from this point. I
started to sit one night, focusing on in, focusing on in, and at
first the mind had settled down because it was used to settling
down. It settled down easily because it 'had a good foundation.' I
kept focusing on in, and as long as no enormous pains arose, the
meditation went quietly. But when I withdrew, a number of hours had
passed, and a huge pain arose, to the point where I almost couldn't
bear it. The mind that had been quiet was totally overturned. Its
'good foundation' had collapsed completely. All that was left was
pain filling the body but the mind wasn't agitated. Strange!
body was so pained that it was quivering all over. This was the
beginning of the hand-to-hand combat in which I was to obtain an
important approach when really severe pain arose unexpectedly
that night. I hadn't yet made up my mind to sit until dawn, you
know. I hadn't made any resolutions or anything at all. I was simply
sitting in meditation as usual, as usual, but when the pain arose in
full force: 'Eh? What's going on here? I'll have to tackle this
feeling so as to see results tonight!' So I made a resolution in
that very moment: 'Okay, if the time doesn't come to get up, I won't
get up. I'll fight until the dawn of the new day. Tonight for
once I'm going to investigate pain so as to understand it
clearly and distinctly. If I don't understand it, then even if I
die, let me die. Let me find out. So dig down!' This is when
discernment really began to work in earnest.
never known, never imagined, never dreamed that discernment would
become so sharp when it was at the end of its rope, when it was
really cornered with no way out. Discernment really started spinning
away. It went out digging, exploring, fighting, determined not to
withdraw its troops in retreat. When I was at the end of my rope,
discernment arose. This made me realize, 'We human beings aren't
fated to be stupid forever. When we're at the end of our rope, we're
sure to manage to find a way to help ourselves.' So it was then:
When I was cornered, overwhelmed by severe pain, mindfulness and
discernment probed into the pain.
pain arises in full force like this, it fills the entire body. At
first it started in hot flashes along the backs of my hands and
feet, which wasn't much to speak of, but then when it really flared
up into something big, the entire body was ablaze. All the bones, as
they were connected, were fuel feeding the fire in every part of the
body. It was as if the body were going to fall apart right then and
there. The neck bones were going to come apart. Every bone was going
to come apart from its connections. My head was going to fall off
and hit the floor. When it's pained, everything is on a par
throughout the body. You don't know where to hold it back enough so
that you can breathe, because everywhere there's nothing but a mass
of fire pain in full force.
couldn't find a safe spot in which to place the mind, mindfulness
and discernment dug down into the pain, searching for the spot where
the pain was greatest. Wherever the pain was greatest, mindfulness
and discernment would investigate and explore right there by
ferreting out the pain so as to see clearly, 'Where does this
feeling come from? Who is pained?' When they asked each part of the
body, each of them remained in keeping with its nature. The skin was
skin, the flesh was flesh, the tendons were tendons, and so forth.
They had been that way from the day of birth, but they hadn't been
painful all along from the day of birth in the same way that they
had been flesh and skin from the day of birth. 'The pain has been
arising and vanishing at intervals. It hasn't been lasting like
these parts of the body.'
focused on down. 'Each part of the body that's a physical form is a
reality. Whatever is a reality stays that way. Right now where is
the feeling arising? If we say that all these things are painful,
why is there one point where it's really severe?' So I separated
things out. At this point, mindfulness and discernment couldn't slip
away anywhere else. They had to run along the areas that hurt,
whirling around themselves, separating the feeling from the body,
observing the body, observing the feeling, and observing the mind:
These three are the important principles.
mind seemed comfortable. No matter how much pain was arising, the
mind wasn't writhing or suffering or anything. But the pain in the
body was clearly very strong. The nature of pain and of whatever
defilements we have is that they join together. Otherwise the mind
won't be troubled or affected by the physical pain that's really
severe at that moment. So discernment kept digging down until the
body, the feeling, and the mind were all clear, each in line with
its individual truth.
mind was what labeled the feeling as being this or that: This I
could see clearly. As soon as this was really clear in this way, the
feeling disappeared in a flash. At that moment, the body was simply
the body in line with its reality. The feeling was simply a feeling
and it disappeared in a flash into the mind. It didn't go anywhere
else. As soon as the feeling disappeared into the mind, the mind
knew that the pain had vanished. The pain had vanished as if it
had been snapped off and thrown away.
addition, the body disappeared from my sense of awareness. At that
moment, the body didn't exist in my awareness at all. All that was
left was simple awareness, because there was only one thing
awareness and it was simply aware. That's all. The mind was so
refined that you could hardly describe it. It simply knew, because
it was extremely delicate and refined within itself. The body had
completely disappeared. Feelings had disappeared. No physical
feelings were left at all. The body sitting right there in
meditation had disappeared from my awareness.
that was left was 'simple knowingness,' without any thoughts being
fashioned about this or that. At that point, the mind wasn't forming
any thoughts at all. When it doesn't form thoughts, we say that
nothing at all makes the slightest move. The mind is fixed firmly
fixed in its own solitude. It's a mind in its simple form, on the
level of a mind centered in stillness but mind you, this
doesn't mean that there was no unawareness.
Unawareness had infiltrated right there, because the mind hadn't
withdrawn from unawareness. The mind and unawareness were quiet
together because unawareness didn't get out to work. When
discernment has it surrounded, unawareness shrinks in and hides out,
quiet in the heart, like the sediment in the bottom of a water jar.
point, I began to feel amazed. There was no pain left. The body had
disappeared. Only one thing hadn't disappeared: an awareness so
refined I couldn't describe it. It simply appeared there. You
couldn't say anything else about it. The thing that simply appeared
there: That was the great marvel at that moment. There was no motion
in the heart, no rippling, nothing of anything at all. It stayed
fixed and still like that until enough time had elapsed and then it
moved. The mind began to withdraw and rippled blip and then was
rippling happens on its own, you know. We can't intend it. If we
intend it, the mind withdraws. What happens is that the mind has had
enough, of its own accord. When it ripples in a 'blip' like this,
it's aware of the fact. As soon as the 'blip' appears, it vanishes.
After a moment it ripples blip again, and disappears in the same
instant. Then the rippling gradually becomes more and more frequent.
the mind withdraws after having fully settled down to its
foundation, it doesn't withdraw all at once. I could clearly see
this at that moment. The mind rippled slightly: A sankhara
formed in a 'blip' and then disappeared before it had amounted to
anything at all. It rippled blip and disappeared right then and
there. After a moment it rippled blip again. Gradually it became
more and more frequent until finally I came back to ordinary
consciousness, to the ordinary level of the mind. I was aware of the
body, but the pain was still gone. When the mind came back out,
there was still no pain. It was still quiet until time came for the
pain to reappear.
where I got my standard and my certainty. I realized that I had
arrived at a basic principle in contending with pain: 'So this is
how it is. Pain is actually something separate. The body is
separate. The mind is separate, but because of one thing
delusion all three converge into one, and the whole mind
becomes delusion, the whole mind is the one deluded. Even though
pain may simply arise in line with its own nature, if we grab hold
of it to burn ourselves, it's hot because our labeling makes it
fair while, the pain returned, so I had to tackle it again, without
retreating. I had to dig on down, exploring again as I had explored
before, but this time I couldn't use the tactics I had used in
investigating and remedying the pain the last time around. I
needed fresh tactics, newly devised by mindfulness and discernment
so as to keep up with events. It was pain just the same, but the
tactics simply had to be pertinent to the moment. I couldn't remedy
matters by holding to the old tactics I had used to investigate and
know in the past. They had to be fresh, hot tactics devised in the
present to cure the present. The mind then settled down firmly in
stillness as it had done before.
first night, the mind settled down three times, but I had to go
through three bouts of hand-to-hand combat. After the third time,
dawn came the end of the final showdown using reason with real
mindfulness and discernment. The mind was audacious, exultant, and
had no fear of death. 'However great the pain may be, that's its own
ordinary business. As long as we don't enter in and load ourselves
down with it, pain has no significance in the heart.' The mind knew
clearly that the body has no significance in terms of itself, in
terms of the feeling, or in terms of us unless the mind gives
it a significance and then gathers in the suffering to burn itself.
There's nothing else that can come in and make the mind suffer.
up that morning, I felt audacious in an extraordinary way. I wanted
to tell Venerable Acariya Mun of my knowledge and capabilities. This
was because I felt daring in a way hard to describe. How was it
that things could be so marvelous like this in a way I had never
encountered before? Ever since I had begun meditating, nothing like
this had ever happened. The mind had completely cut off all
connection with any objects and had gathered within itself with real
courage. It had gathered by investigating all around itself,
which was why it had calmed itself inwardly like a thoroughbred.
When it withdrew, it was still full of courage, with no fear of
death at all, owing to its conviction that, 'I investigated like
this and this when pain arose. The next time it comes, I won't fear
it because it's the same old pain. It's pain with the same old face.
The body is the same old body. Discernment is the same old
discernment we've used before.' For this reason, the heart felt no
fear of death so much so that it felt all sorts of things hard to
describe. To put it in worldly terms, it was like defying someone
right to his face, with no fear of pain or death.
When the mind is bold, it's bold all the way. Daring all the way. It
fights without retreating. 'Okay, I'll take you on.' To put it
simply and frankly, that's just how it feels. When the time comes to
die, 'Okay, I'll take you on.' The mind doesn't retreat. 'When the
time comes to die, where will death find any pain for us greater
than this? There's no such thing. The only pain is the pain in the
khandhas. It can be great or small, but we know it here in
the khandhas. No matter how much or how heavy the pain may
be, it can't outstrip our knowledge and capabilities. It can't
outstrip our mindfulness and discernment. Mindfulness and
discernment are capable of keeping track of it all, as they have
already known and removed it in the past.' This is what made me feel
the time would come to die, I didn't see that there would be any
problem, with mindfulness and discernment all around me like this.
If the time came to die, then let me die. Birth and death come in a
pair. You can't separate death from birth so as not to die, because
they are equal truths.
next time around, I took on the pain again and knew in the same way.
I kept on knowing in the same way and winning every time. Once I had
given it all my strength in that way, there was never a day in which
I'd say, 'Last night I stayed up in meditation all night until dawn
and didn't get anything out of it.' But any night in which the mind
had difficulty investigating and settling down, I would come out
feeling battered all over my body. I'd be all stiff and sore.
for getting tactics and strength of mind, I'd get them every time,
until I no longer had any fear of death at all and where would I
get any fear? Death was something ordinary. In other words,
discernment had analyzed down to 'What dies?' Hair, nails, teeth,
skin, flesh, bones: They're simply their original element
solidity, the earth element. Since when did the earth element ever
die? When they disintegrate, what do they become? If we focus on
down, we see that they return to their original properties. The
water element returns to its original property. The wind and fire
elements simply return to their own original properties. Nothing is
annihilated. The elements have simply come together in a lump, and
the mind comes in and animates it this super-deluded one comes in
and animates it, that's all and then carries the entire burden:
'This is my self.' It lays its claims: 'This is me. This is mine.'
And so it rakes in every kind of suffering as if contracting for the
whole mass, using those assumptions simply to burn itself, and
mind itself is the culprit. The five khandhas aren't the
culprits. They aren't our enemies or anything. They simply have
their own reality, but we make assumptions and carry then as a
burden. This is why there's suffering and stress. We manufacture it
ourselves. These things don't manufacture it for us. 'There is
nothing that comes and gives us suffering': This is how the mind
came to understand things. We are the ones who misconstrue
things. We are the ones who suffer because we misconstrue things.
This produces suffering to burn and trouble the heart. I could
clearly see that nothing dies.
mind doesn't die. It becomes more pronounced. When we fully
investigate the four elements earth, water, wind, and fire down
to their original properties, the mind becomes even more pronounced
and clear. So where is there any death? What dies? None of these
conditions die. The four elements earth, water, wind, and fire:
They don't die. And as for the mind, how can it die? It becomes more
aware. More pronounced. More conspicuous. This doesn't die, so why
does it fear death? We've been fooled all along, fooled for aeons
and aeons, for actually nothing dies.
the word 'fooled' doesn't mean that anyone intended to fool us.
We've been fooled simply because of our own delusion fooled into
fearing death. Now we see: This is how the world fears death from
not having explored down to its truth, from not knowing what dies.
Because look: Nothing dies. Each thing simply has its separate
reality. I saw this clearly. The mind proclaimed itself by its very
nature. I saw its marvelousness clearly, every time.
when the pain was as hot as fire in the body and seemed ready to
reach the clouds, it would vanish clear away, with nothing left, due
to the power of mindfulness and discernment; even the body would
vanish from my sense of consciousness and wouldn't appear at all.
When everything disbanded completely as the result of my
investigation, all that remained was simple awareness, as if
floating in mid-space (although I didn't make the comparison at the
moment). It was completely empty, but the awareness knew clearly.
There was only one thing. There was only one strange thing in the
world: the heart.
water, wind, and fire made no contact with the heart. The heart thus
had no sense of earth, water, wind, fire or any part of the body.
All that remained was a solitary awareness, an awareness not
involved with anything at all an amazing awareness, coming from
having investigated things with circumspection and then having
withdrawn from them. Clear. Outstanding. Astounding.
the mind can be settled down like this for no matter how many days
or nights it may last it has no sense of pain, that the body will
fall apart, that it hurts here or aches there: no sense of any of
this at all. And what would give it any sense of this? Time and
place don't exist in that mental state. This called to mind how the
Buddhas, Pacceka Buddhas, and arahant disciples could enter the
cessation of feeling and perception for seven days at a time. They
could enter for as many days as they liked. If their minds settled
down like this to the extent of not being involved with anything at
all, leaving just plain awareness without any involvement with time
or place, then they could sit for aeons if they liked. Even if the
body couldn't endure, if it were to break apart, it would simply do
so, without having any impact on this nature at all.
was when my mind accepted really believed in the ability of
those extraordinary people who enter the cessation of feeling and
perception for so-and-so many days. If their minds reached this
level without withdrawing back out to anything outside, then for
days or months they wouldn't have any perception of anything at all.
Where would there be pain and pleasure in their bodies? There
wouldn't be any at all. They wouldn't have any sense of the body.
They wouldn't have any awareness of feelings. All that would remain
would be plain awareness. They could sit for aeons, if they liked,
as long as the mind was like this.
made me believe in the stories of the Pacceka Buddhas who entered
the cessation of feeling and perception. So I took this as a
confirmation in my mind. Whoever says I'm crazy can go ahead and say
so. They have mouths; we have ears. If we want to listen, we can. If
we don't, we can keep still. We are all free to have our opinions on
this matter and that. No one has a monopoly on knowing and seeing!
though I didn't sit for a long time, the state of mind that had
grown still to that extent for a spell of time was enough to serve
as confirmation of those who entered the cessation of feeling and
perception for long periods of time, because it had the same
characteristics: not involved with anything at all. The body would
simply be a body. If it were to fall apart, if it couldn't last
after all, the body is inconstant, stressful, and not-self then it
would simply fall apart without the mind's being aware.
a level attained through mindfulness and discernment. It's a level
where discernment fosters concentration. The mind reaches the full
extent of concentration like this because discernment has fully
investigated down to causes and effects. It then gathers with
courage and great refinement. Ordinarily, when the mind filled with
just the power of concentration focuses and settles down, it is
simply unmoving and nothing else. It isn't as profound and refined
as this. But the mind stilled through the power of discernment is
refined each time. Once we have gone through hand-to-hand combat in
this way to the point where we get results, the mind has to be
absolutely quiet, just like this.
was the basis, or the starting capital, for my courage; the primary
seed for my firm conviction in the affairs of the mind. No matter
how much anything else might be annihilated, this knowing nature
would not be annihilated. I could see this clearly. I saw it
clearly at the point when nothing else was involved in my sense of
awareness. There was simply that single awareness and so it was very
pronounced. I couldn't really say whether this was on the level of
concentration or of discernment. When the mind actually was that
way, that's how it was.
that point on I kept at it. I kept investigating out in the area of
discernment, ranging out widely, then circling back in again. As
soon as I would understand, step by step, the mind would let go and
circle inward in an ever-narrowing sphere, investigating the
khandhas and elements, separating the khandhas and
where it began to be 'samuccheda-pahana' absolute
relinquishment, arising from the investigation in the period that
followed. As long as the investigation hadn't been absolute, it
would win out for only a period of time, just enough to serve as
evidence and proof. It still wasn't absolute relinquishment. But
when discernment came to a really clear understanding while
investigating, then it pulled out and severed all ties, step by step
severed things so that there were no connections left; severed
them step by step, leaving just plain awareness.
body (rupa) was severed from attachment. Vedana, saρρa,
sankhara, and viρρana were severed from attachment. Or
you could say that the 'heart' was severed from 'them.' Things kept
being severed until only awareness was left in other words, the
mind with unawareness buried inside it. So I probed on in, smashed
things to bits, slashed them to smithereens with up-to-the-minute
mindfulness and discernment. The mind of unawareness broke apart,
and when the mind of unawareness broke apart, that was all!
was when I came to know that all of the marvels I have mentioned
here were simply an affair of unawareness. They had simply been a
support, a way-station, a seed that had produced conviction step by
step, but after that if you were to say they were good, they were
good; but if you're aiming at the subtle Dhamma, this goodness is
the goodness of unawareness. It's not genuine goodness, not pure
goodness. It's goodness mixed with evil, with suffering and stress,
because stress still has a chance to arise. We have to keep slashing
in, slashing in until everything is smithereens in the heart.
Whatever is a seed of anything counterfeit in the heart, wash it
away, scrub it away, until nothing is left, and that's all. The
entire mind that is assumed to be 'this' or 'that' is all gone.
where the mind reaches absolute purity, where it reaches complete
freedom from all conventional realities. That's really 'all'! It's
astounding. If it weren't astounding, it wouldn't be release from
stress. This is a Dhamma apart a Dhamma beyond conventions.
what I've described here is difficult or not, consider it for
yourselves. Sometimes I'd feel ready to pass out. Sometimes I'd feel
as if the entire body were on fire. When the pain was really fierce,
it seemed to fill the entire body. But ultimately I was able to pass
through these things, to resolve them using mindfulness and
we put them to use, mindfulness and discernment are never at the end
of their rope. We human beings aren't fated always to be stupid, you
know. When we come to the end of our rope, we're sure to be able to
save ourselves. Who should be willing to go under when we have the
mindfulness and discernment to remedy things, or when there's an
opening through which we can escape, through which we can force our
way out? Who would willingly be buried to death? We can't help but
manage to find a way out.
the pain is so piled on that we can't see any way to cure it other
than using mindfulness and discernment to explore and find a way
out, discernment doesn't depend on this person or that. When
the time comes for the mind to investigate when it's cornered, it
gathers its forces and manages to save itself.
Buddha thus taught us to live in 'crucial' places places where
we're cornered, at the end of our rope where we live simply, so
that mindfulness and discernment can work full steam ahead and see
their own capabilities, rather than simply waiting for help from
others. Time and place can help give rise to mindfulness and
discernment. If we live in a scary place, mindfulness is strong.
Discernment is sharp. Whatever we investigate, they are adroit and
audacious. If we live in a comfortable place, we get lazy. We eat a
lot and sleep a lot. This is the way it is with the mind. If we live
in ordinary circumstances, we're very lazy, very inert, very
apathetic and listless. If we live in places that aren't scary, we
become heedless and revert to being complacent, to sleeping like
live in a scary place, we're always alert. When we're alert, we're
always self-aware, because alertness is what it means to be
mindful. Mindfulness appears within us, always self-aware,
always engaged in persistent effort. Whatever makes contact, we
understand because we're not complacent, because we're always alert.
This is why we're taught to live in whatever places are appropriate,
because they can give good encouragement or support to our
have comfortable huts in which to live as we have here
everything cares for our every need. Food overflows our bowls. We're
flooded day and night with fruit juice, soft drinks, cocoa, and
coffee. Main course dishes and desserts come pouring in from every
direction. If we lack mindfulness and discernment, we lie clutching
our food, like a pig lying next to its hay and then climbing up to
lie on the chopping block. As for the Dhamma, we have no hope of
winning it. Any meditation monk who is 'clever' in this way is bound
to go under in this way without a doubt.
mindfulness and discernment, we have to think. However much of the
necessities of life we may have, we must find tactics for keeping
the mind in shape, to keep wary and uncomplacent like a deer wary of
places where you don't have to be wary of food like this, the mind
goes about thinking in another way to reform itself. There, where
will you get an excess of anything? Everything is lacking.
Insufficient. Some days you get enough alms to eat, some days you
don't. 'This way there's nothing to be concerned about, because
you've been full and been hungry before. Even if you go without food
for one or two days, you won't die.'
how the heart deals with the problem, and so it isn't concerned
about food or anything else. If there's nothing but rice, you eat
rice and you don't see that you're concerned about it. 'After all,
you've come to a place like this, so what's wrong with eating
whatever's available? Where are you going to find anything to go
with the rice? You've been fed rice ever since the day you were
born, so what's wrong with eating just rice? Can you eat other
things without rice? If eating other things is really special,
you've already eaten a lot of them, so why aren't you ever full?
You've come looking for the Dhamma, not for food. Why are you so
worked up about your stomach? You've already eaten a lot, and yet
nothing special has ever come of it. You're looking for the
extraordinary Dhamma, so what business do you have getting worked up
about food? An expert in Dhamma isn't an expert in eating.' The mind
deals with the situation in the flash of an eye, and the end result
is that it isn't concerned. This is how a meditation monk subdues
himself or in other words, subdues his greed for the necessities
a result of correcting itself in the matter of eating or not eating,
the mind keeps spinning. You sit in meditation without getting
tired. With no food in your stomach, what is there to get drowsy
about? If you don't eat at all, you're not drowsy at all and can
meditate with ease.
a tactic in teaching monks to practice the Dhamma
'rukkhamula-senasanam' under the shade of trees, in the
mountains, in the forest, in lonely places where it's scary
ahara-sappaya, where the food is amenable. 'Amenable' here means
that it doesn't disrupt the body, that it isn't harmful or toxic to
the body; and that it doesn't disrupt the mind as well. 'Amenable
food' means nothing but rice sometimes, or just a little food, so
that our meditation goes well. It's amenable for those intent on the
those of us who are intent on nourishing the stomach for the sake of
the body can't do this at all. Otherwise we'll die don't say I
didn't warn you. Normally if we eat a lot, with nothing but good
dishes to eat, then we sleep like pigs. How can this be amenable?
It's amenable for the defilements, not for winning the Dhamma. It's
amenable for the affairs of defilements and the affairs of pigs.
term 'amenable food' has to refer to eating in a way that serves a
purpose. To eat just a little serves a purpose: Wherever we sit in
meditation, the mind is really solid. If we're involved with
concentration, the mind is solid. If we're involved with
discernment, it keeps spinning with much more agility than normal.
Dhamma tends to arise in places where things are lacking, in
difficult places where we're cornered, at the end of our rope.
It doesn't arise where things are overflowing, where our needs are
met. It doesn't arise in comfortable places because we just get
complacent. This is the way we tend to be.
Lord Buddha lived in a royal palace for how long? and then left
it to take up the homeless life. Who ever suffered more than he?
'Buddha' Awakening tends to arise in situations like that. His
disciples came from all sorts of families the families of kings,
financiers, landowners listen to this wealthy people. When they
went out to become 'sons of the Sakyan, sons of the victorious
Buddha,' how did they live? 'If we're going to die, then we die.
We're not going to worry or be bothered with anything at all except
for the Dhamma.' There! They gained the Dhamma in difficult places,
just like the Buddha.
which way are we going to take? The Buddha has already shown us the
way. The Dhamma arises in that sort of place in tight spots where
things are difficult. The Dhamma arises from a heap of suffering. If
there's no heap of suffering, then mindfulness and discernment don't
arise. If we don't think, we don't gain mindfulness and discernment.
The Dhamma doesn't appear. If there's a lot of stress, it's a
whetstone for discernment, which probes for clear insight into the
affairs of stress. This way we can live through it and come out
Radiant Mind Is Unawareness
Normally the mind is radiant and always ready to make contact with
everything of every sort. Although all phenomena without exception
fall under the laws of the three characteristics stress,
inconstancy, and not-self the true nature of the mind doesn't fall
under these laws.
extent to which the mind does follow these laws is because
the things that fall under these three characteristics come spinning
in and become involved with it, so that it goes spinning along with
them. Even then, though, it spins in a way that doesn't disintegrate
or fall apart. It spins with the things that have the power to make
it spin, but the natural power of the mind itself is that it
knows and does not die. This deathlessness is something that
lies beyond disintegration. This non-disintegration is something
that lies beyond the three characteristics and the common laws of
nature, but we're not aware of it because conventional realities
become involved with the mind and surround it, so that the mind's
behavior conforms thoroughly to theirs.
fact that we're unaware that birth and death are things that have
always been with the mind infected by defilement, is because
ignorance itself is an affair of defilement. Birth and death are
an affair of defilement. Our own true affair, the affair
that's ours pure and simple the affair of the mind pure and simple
is that we don't have the power to be our own true self. We
have been taking all sorts of counterfeit things as our self all
along, and so the mind's behavior is not in keeping with its true
nature. Its behavior falls under the sway of the deceits of
defilement, which make it worry and fear, dreading death, dreading
everything. Whatever happens a little pain, a lot of pain it's
afraid. If even the least little thing disturbs it, it's afraid. As
a result, the mind is filled with worries and fears. Even though
fear and worry aren't directly an affair of the mind, they still
manage to make it tremble.
see when the mind is cleansed so that it is fully pure and nothing
can become involved with it that no fear appears in the mind at
all. Fear doesn't appear. Courage doesn't appear. All that appears
is its own nature by itself, just its own timeless nature. That's
all. This is the genuine mind. 'Genuine mind' here refers only to
the purity or the 'saupadisesa-nibbana' of the arahants.
Nothing else can be called the 'genuine mind' without reservations
or hesitations. I, for one, would feel embarrassed to use the term
for anything else at all.
'original mind' means the original mind of the round in which the
mind finds itself spinning around and about, as in the Buddha's
saying, 'Monks, the original mind is radiant' notice that 'but
because of the admixture of defilements' or 'because of the
defilements that come passing through, it becomes darkened.'
original mind here refers to the origin of conventional realities,
not to the origin of purity. The Buddha uses the term
'pabhassaram' 'pabhassaramidam cittam bhikkhave'
which means radiant. It doesn't mean pure. The way he puts it is
absolutely right. There is no way you can fault it. Had he said that
the original mind is pure, you could immediately take issue: 'If the
mind is pure, why is it born? Those who have purified their minds
are never reborn. If the mind is already pure, why purify it?' Right
here is where you could take issue. What reason would there be to
purify it? If the mind is radiant, you can purify it because its
radiance is unawareness incarnate, and nothing else. Meditators will
see clearly for themselves the moment the mind passes from radiance
to mental release: Radiance will no longer appear. Right here is the
point where meditators clearly know this, and it's the point that
lets them argue because the truth has to be found true in the
individual heart. Once a person knows, he or she can't help but
speak with full assurance.
the fact that our mind is surrounded, made to fear, to worry, to
love, to hate, or whatever, is caused entirely by the symptoms of
conventional reality, the symptoms of defilement. We have no mental
power of our own. We have only the power of defilement, craving, and
mental effluents pushing and pressuring us day and night while we
sit, stand, walk, and lie down. Where are we going to find any
happiness and ease as long as these things, which are constantly
changing, keep provoking the mind to change along with them without
our being aware of the fact?
can be no ease in this world none at all until these things can
be completely eradicated from the heart. Until then, we can have no
secure ease and relief in any way. We can only shift and change
about, or lean this way and that, depending on how much we're
provoked by the things that come and involve us. This is why the
Buddha teaches us to cleanse the mind, which is the same thing as
cleansing ourselves of suffering.
is no one who has genuinely penetrated the principles of the truth
like the Lord Buddha. Only he can be called 'sayambhu' one
who needs no teaching or training from anyone else. In curing his
heart of defilement, he performed the duties of both student and
teacher, all by himself, until he awakened to the level of the
superlative Dhamma, becoming the superlative person, the superlative
not to deny that on the level of concentration the development of
mental stillness he received training from the two hermits; but
that in itself wasn't the way of extrication leading to the level of
omniscience (sabbaρρu). By the time he was to attain
omniscience, he had left the two hermits and was striving on his
own. He came to know the Dhamma on his own and to see on his own,
without anyone else's teaching him. He then brought that Dhamma to
teach the world so that it has known good and evil, heaven, hell,
and nibbana ever since. Had there been no one to teach us, we
of the world would be completely burdened with the mass of fire
filling our hearts and would never see the day when we could put our
being the case, we should appreciate the worth of the Dhamma that
the Buddha brought to the world after having endured hardships in a
way no one else in the world could have managed.
at present, what is it that covers the heart so that we can't find
its radiance and purity, even though each of us wants to find
purity. What conceals it? To answer in terms of natural principles,
we should start with the five khandhas. As for the 'mind of
unawareness,' we can save that for later. Let's just start out with
what's really obvious the five khandhas and their
companions: sight, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations.
make contact with the eye, ear, nose, tongue and body, and then link
up with the mind, forming the basis for this assumption and that.
The mind then takes the objects that have come passing by and uses
them to bind itself, entangle itself, or encircle itself so that it
is completely darkened with love, hate, anger, and all sorts of
other states, all of which come from the things I have mentioned.
what lies buried deep is our belief that the khandhas form
our self. From time immemorial, whatever our language, whatever our
race even when we are common animals we have to believe that
these things are us, are ours; that they are a being, the self of a
being, our own self. If we become deities, we believe that our
divine bodies are ours. If we become hungry ghosts or whatever, the
things we dwell in gross bodies or refined we take to be us or
ours. Even when we become human beings and begin to have some sense
of good and evil, we still have to believe that 'This is us,' or
'This is ours.' Of the five khandhas, the body (rupa)
is 'us.' Vedana, saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana are
'us,' are 'ours.' These assumptions lie buried deep within us.
Buddha thus teaches us to investigate. We investigate these things
so as to see their truth clearly and then to uproot our mistaken
assumptions and attachments that they are the self. We do this for
the sake of freedom and for nothing else.
look at these things in their normal state, we might wonder why we
should investigate them. Sights are simply sights; sounds are
sounds; smells, smells; tastes, tastes; tactile sensations are
simply natural phenomena as they've always been. They've never
announced that they are our enemies. So why investigate them?
investigate them to know the truth of each one of them as it
actually is, to realize our own delusions by means of this
investigation and to extricate ourselves from them through knowledge
for the fact that the mind lays claim to the khandhas as
its self, as belonging to itself, is because of delusion and nothing
have investigated and clearly understood what these things are, the
mind withdraws inwardly through knowledge, understanding, and
discernment, with no more concern for these things. We investigate
whichever khandha is most prominent. We needn't conjecture or
speculate about the fact that we haven't contemplated the five
khandhas in their entirety, or each khandha in turn. We
needn't conjecture at all. All we need to do is to see which
khandha is prominent and merits investigation at the moment
which khandha we feel best suited to handle and then
investigate and explore it so that it becomes clear.
for instance, the body, whichever aspect of the body is most
prominent in your awareness the aspect that has you most
interested, that you want most to investigate. Latch onto that spot
and focus on examining it so as to see its truth in terms of the
question, 'What is stress?'
texts we are told that stress (dukkha) means
'unendurability,' but this doesn't sit well with my own crass
tastes, which is why one man's meat being another man's poison I
prefer to translate stress as 'a constant squeeze.' This is more in
keeping with my tastes, which are very crude. For example, the
phrase, 'yampiccham na labhati tampi dukkham,' is right in
line with my translation. In other words, 'Not attaining what is
desired is stress.' How is it stress? In that it puts a squeeze on
us, or makes us uncomfortable.
don't get what we want, we're uncomfortable. Even if we get what we
want but then lose it, we suffer stress. Stress in this sense fits
the translation, 'a squeeze.' This squeeze is what's meant by stress
or unendurability. If it can't endure, let it go its own way. Why
mess with it? Actually, no matter which khandha, no matter
which of the three characteristics, the mind is the one at fault for
getting attached, which is why we have to examine the khandhas
until we have them clear.
Whatever aspect of the body, look so as to see it clearly. If we're
not yet clear about the filthiness in our 'physical heap,' we can
look at the charnel ground within us so as to see it clearly. When
we're told to visit the charnel ground, this is where we make our
visit. Even if we visit a charnel ground outside, the purpose is to
reflect inwardly on the inner charnel ground our own body.
the external charnel ground, in the days of the Buddha it was a
place where corpses were scattered all over the place. The dead were
hardly ever buried or cremated as they are today. So the Buddha
taught monks to visit the charnel ground, where old corpses and new
were scattered everywhere. He also gave detailed instructions as to
the direction from which to enter, in keeping with his sharp
intelligence as a self-dependent Buddha, the Teacher of the world.
He said to approach from the upwind side and not from the downwind
side. Otherwise the stench of the various corpses would be bad for
you encounter corpses in this way, how do you feel? Look at the
different types of corpses. How do you feel? Now refer inwardly, to
your own body, which is another corpse.' This is how he taught the
monks to investigate. Once we have an eyewitness ourself as to
what the corpses in the external charnel ground are like, we can
refer inwardly to the internal charnel ground: ourself again. Once
we have grasped the basic principle, the external charnel ground
gradually fades out of the picture. Instead, we investigate our
internal charnel ground so that it becomes gradually more and more
clear. In other words, we see how this body is a well of filth.
Repulsive. Something that constantly has to be washed, bathed, and
there anything that, once it has become involved with any part of
the body, remains clean? Even the food we eat, once we consume it,
becomes filthy from the moment it enters the mouth and passes on
down. Our clothing is also dirty. It has to be washed and laundered
a lot of fuss and bother. The same holds true for our homes. They
constantly have to be cleaned, scrubbed, dusted, and swept.
Otherwise they turn into another charnel ground because of the filth
and the smell. Everywhere, wherever human beings live, has to be
cleaned because human beings are filthy. And since our bodies are
already filthy, everything that comes into contact with them becomes
filthy. Even food delicious, inviting, appealing food once it
becomes mixed with the filth in the body, such as saliva, becomes
filthy as well. If you took food of various kinds into your mouth
and then spit it out, there'd be no way you could take it back in
again. It'd be too disgusting. Revolting. Why? Because the body is
filthy by its very nature, and so whatever becomes involved with the
body becomes filthy as well.
contemplate in this way is called investigating the charnel ground,
or investigating the theme of loathsomeness.
Focus in on seeing its inherent nature. Look at every facet, in
whichever way comes most naturally to you. When you've examined one
spot, your knowledge gradually seeps into the next spot and the
next. If mindfulness and awareness keep in close connection,
discernment can't help but go to work and advance unceasingly.
You'll feel profoundly moved as you come to see and know truly, step
by step. This is discernment on the first level of investigation.
you've investigated filthiness, you then investigate the process of
change in the body. In other words, filth is in this body. Dry
corpses, fresh corpses, raw corpses, cooked corpses, all kinds of
corpses are gathered together in this body, but I've never heard the
place where they are barbecued, roasted, and stewed called a
crematorium. Instead, it's called kitchen. But actually, that's what
it is, a crematorium for animals. And then they're all buried here
in this stomach, this grave. We're a burial ground for all kinds of
animals yes, us! if we look at ourselves in all fairness, with
impartiality, because we're filled with old corpses and new. Once we
have contemplated in this way, then if we don't feel disenchantment,
if we don't feel disengagement, what will we feel? for that's the
way the truth actually is.
Buddha taught us to get to the truth, because this is what the truth
is. If we don't resist the truth, we will all be able to unshackle
ourselves from our attachments and false assumptions from our
stupidity and foolishness step by step. The mind will become
bright and clear, radiating its brightness with dignity, bravery,
and courage in the face of the truth that comes into contact with it
at all times. It will be content to accept every facet of the truth
with fairness and impartiality. Even though we may not have yet
abandoned our attachments absolutely, we can still find relief in
having put them down to at least some extent. We no longer have to
be constantly weighed down with our attachments to the khandhas
to the point where we are always miserable. This is in keeping with
the saying, 'Fools, the heavier their burdens, the more they keep
piling on. Sages, the lighter their burdens, the more they let go
until nothing is left.'
investigate in this way, we should examine the process of change in
the khandhas. Every piece, every bit, every part of the body
undergoes change. There's no exception, not even for a single hair.
Everything undergoes change in the same way. So which part is us,
which part is ours, to which we should be attached?
same holds true with the word 'anatta,' not-self. It drives
home even more firmly the fact that these things don't deserve our
attachment. 'Anatta' lies in the same parts as change the
very same parts. They're anatta, not ours or anyone else's.
Each one, each one is simply a natural phenomenon mingled with
the others in line with its own nature, without any concern for
who will like it or hate it, latch onto it or let it go.
human beings are light-fingered and quick. Whatever comes our way,
we snatch hold of it, snatch hold of it, with no concern for right
or wrong. We're more light-fingered and quick than a hundred
monkeys, and yet all of us, all over the world, like to criticize
monkeys for not being able to sit contented and still. Actually we
ourselves can't stay contented and still in any position. We're full
of restlessness unruly, reckless, overflowing our boundaries and
yet we never think of criticizing ourselves. The Dhamma taught by
the Buddha is thus like a stick for slapping the hands of this
light-fingered, unruly monkey.
the three characteristics, anatta among them, he warns us,
strikes our wrists: 'Don't reach!' He slaps us, strikes us: 'Don't
reach for it as "me" or "mine."' The phrase, 'The body is not the
self,' is just like that. 'Don't reach for it. Don't latch onto it.'
This is simply so that we will see that it's already not-self. By
its nature it's not-self. It doesn't belong to anyone at all. He's
already told us: 'Anatta: It's not the self.' This is how we
investigate the body.
then: Focus on visualizing it as it disintegrates, in whichever way
seems most natural to you. This part decomposes. That part
decomposes. This part falls off. That part falls off. Let yourself
become engrossed in watching it, using your own ingenuity. This
falls off, that falls off, until everything has fallen apart all
the bones, from the skull on down. Once the skin that enwraps them
has decomposed, the flesh has decomposed, the tendons that hold them
together have decomposed, the bones can't help but fall apart, piece
by piece, because they are held together only by tendons. Once the
tendons decompose, the different parts have to fall off piece by
piece in a pile on the ground, scattered all over the place. You can
even visualize having vultures, crows, and dogs come to eat and
scatter the parts everywhere. How does the mind feel about this?
then, look at it. Visualize the liquid parts seeping into the earth
and evaporating into the air, then drying away, drying away until
they no longer appear. The solid parts, once they've dried, return
to the earth from which they came. Earth returns to earth, water to
water, wind to wind. Penetrate down into any of four elements
earth, water, wind, or fire because each gives clear evidence of
the Noble Truths.
don't have to think that we've examined earth clearly, but this
element or that element isn't clear. We needn't think that way at
all. If we examine any one of them until it's clear, we will
penetrate them all, because earth, water, wind, and fire are all
already open and aboveboard. They appear to our sight. In our body,
we already have water. Wind for example, the in-and-out breath
is already clearly there, already clear to see. Fire the warmth in
the body is something we all have here in our bodies. So why don't
we accept its truth with right discernment? Once we've investigated
it over and over again, we have to accept it. We can't resist the
truth, because that's why we're here: We want the truth.
investigating. Look for the part that's 'you' or 'yours.' Look for
it! There isn't any not a one! The whole thing originally belongs
to them: to earth, water, wind, and fire. It originally belongs to
the different elements.
when you look in this manner, the mind can settle down and grow
still. At the same time, these aren't preoccupations that will make
the mind proud, conceited, or unruly. Rather, they are themes that
calm the heart, which is why the Buddha taught us to investigate
them repeatedly until we understand and become adept at them.
the mind sees clearly with its own discernment, it can't help but
withdraw into stillness, firmly centered within, letting go of all
its cares. This is one level in the investigation of the
the next step: Investigate feelings of pain, especially when you are
ill or have been sitting in meditation for a long time, and severe
pain arises. Take it on, right there. A warrior has to fight when
the enemy appears. If there's no enemy, how can you call him a
warrior? And what's the enemy? Feelings of pain, the enemy of the
heart. When you're ill, where does it hurt? There: You have your
enemy. If you're a warrior, how can you run away and hide? You have
to fight until you gain knowledge and then use that knowledge to
come out victorious.
What does the pain come from? From the time we were born until we
first sat in meditation, it wasn't there. Before we first became
ill, it didn't appear. It appears only now that we're ill. Before
that, where was it hiding? If it's really 'us,' our mind should have
been aware of it at all times, so why hasn't this kind of pain
appeared at all times? Why is it appearing now? If the pain is 'us,'
then when it vanishes why doesn't the mind vanish with it? If
they're really one and the same thing, they have to vanish together.
The pain should appear as long as the mind is aware. If they're one
and the same thing, the pain shouldn't vanish. You have to look and
investigate until this is clear. At the same time, analyze the body
when the pain arises when, for example, your legs ache or when
this or that bone hurts. Fix your attention on the bone if the bone
is really hurting.
bone the pain? Ask yourself! And whatever you're asking about,
focus your attention right there. Don't ask in the abstract or
absentmindedly. Ask in a way that focuses the mind right down to see
the truth. Focus steadily right on the pain. Stare the mind right
down on whichever bone you identify with the pain. Look carefully to
see, 'Is this bone the pain?' Fix your attention there. Really
observe with your own discernment. If this bone is really the pain,
then when the pain vanishes, why doesn't the bone vanish with it? If
they really are one and the same thing, then when the pain vanishes,
the bone should vanish too. It shouldn't remain.
look: When the disease goes away, or when we get up from sitting in
meditation, the really severe pain vanishes, the stress vanishes. So
if they are one and the same thing, why doesn't the bone
vanish as well? This shows that they aren't one and the same. The
feeling isn't the same as the body. The body isn't the same as the
feeling. Similarly, the body and the mind aren't one and the same.
Each has its own separate reality. Distinguish them so as to see
them clearly in line with this truth, and you'll understand their
true nature through discernment, with no doubts at all. Feeling will
appear in its true nature.
Ultimately, the investigation will come circling in, circling in,
circling in to the mind. The pain will gradually shrink into itself,
away from the mind's assumptions. In other words, you will see that
the mind is the culprit. The mind is the instigator. The physical
pain will gradually subside and fade away. The body will simply be
there as the body, with the same reality it had before the pain
appeared. And now that the pain has vanished, the flesh, skin,
tendon, bone or whatever part you had identified as the pain will
maintain its reality in the same way. It isn't the pain. The body is
the body. The feeling is the feeling. The mind is the mind. Fix your
attention on seeing them clearly. Once the mind has penetrated to
the truth, the pain will disappear. This is one result.
result is that even if the pain doesn't vanish here I'm referring
to the physical pain still it can't have any impact on the heart
and mind. Ultimately, the mind is serene, secure, and majestic,
there in the midst of the physical pain. No matter which part of the
body you say is pained even if it's the whole body at once the
mind isn't disturbed or agitated in any way. It's relaxed and at
ease because it has seen with discernment right through the pain
appearing at the moment. This is another sort of result that comes
from investigating pain.
investigating pain, then the greater the pain, the more important it
is that your mindfulness and discernment not retreat. They have to
keep advancing so as to know the truth. You needn't aim at making
the pain vanish, because such a desire would simply enhance the pain
and make it more and more severe. Actually, you're making an
investigation simply to see the truth. Whether or not the pain
vanishes, know the truth that is the pain or gives rise to the pain
by seeing through it with your own discernment: That's enough. Fix
your attention there, and these things will keep appearing and
disappearing there in the khandhas.
body appears for a certain period and then disintegrates in what we
call death. As for feelings of pain, they appear a hundred times in
a single day and then disappear a hundred times, a thousand times as
well. What's lasting about them? This is the kind of truth they are.
Get so you clearly know with discernment the truth of painful
feelings as they appear. Don't retreat or let the mind wander
saρρa labeling at the moment? Saρρa is the important
instigator. As soon as sankhara fashions anything blip! saρρa
latches right onto it and labels it this, labels it that
stirring things all up. When we talk about the things that create
havoc, provoking this issue and that, we're referring to these
characters: sankharas and saρρas that label things and
stamp meanings on them. 'This is us. This is ours. This is pain. It
hurts right here. It hurts right there. I'm afraid of the pain. I'm
afraid to die' afraid of everything of every sort. These are the
characters that fool us into fear, making the mind apprehensive,
making it give up its efforts and lose. Is it good to lose?
Even children playing games have a sense of shame when they lose,
and try to make up their losses. As for meditators who lose out to
defilement, who lose out to pain: If they don't feel embarrassed in
the presence of the defilements, the pains and themselves, then
they're simply too shameless.
that vedana, saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana are simply
individual conditions displayed by the mind. They appear and vanish.
'Saρρa anatta' see? They too are not-self, so how can you
hold to them? How can you believe them to be you, to be yours, to be
true? Keep track of them so that you can know them clearly with
mindfulness and discernment: audacious, undaunted, diamond-hearted,
decisive in the face of defilement and pain of every sort.
Sankharas, mental formations: They form blip, blip, blip in
the heart. The heart ripples for a moment: blip, blip, blip. The
moment they arise, they vanish. So what substance or truth can you
find in these saρρas and sankharas?
Viρρana, cognizance: As soon as anything comes into contact,
this takes note and vanishes, takes note and vanishes. So
ultimately, the khandhas are full of nothing but appearing
and vanishing. There's nothing lasting about them that can give us
any real sustenance or nourishment. There's not even the least bit
of substance to them. So use your discernment to investigate until
you see clearly in this way, and you will come to see the real
Dhamma taught by the Buddha, which has not been otherwise from time
immemorial and by the same token will never be otherwise at all.
we've investigated to this extent, how can the mind not withdraw
into stillness until it is plainly apparent? It has to be still. It
has to stand out. The mind's awareness of itself has to be prominent
because it has withdrawn inwardly from having seen the truth of
these things. The mind has to be prominent. Pain, no matter
how horribly severe, will dissolve away through investigation,
through the mind's having clearly seen its truth. Or if it doesn't
go away, then the pain and the mind will each have their own
separate reality. The heart will be inwardly majestic. Undaunted.
the time comes for death, let it happen. There is no more fear,
because death is entirely a matter of rupa, vedana, saρρa,
sankhara, and viρρana. It's not a matter of the 'knower'
the heart breaking apart. It's not the knower the heart that
dies. Only those other things die. The mind's labels and assumptions
have simply fooled it into fear. If we can catch sight of the fact
that these labels and assumptions are illusions and not worthy of
credence, the mind will withdraw inwardly, no longer believing them,
but believing the truth instead, believing the discernment that has
investigated things thoroughly.
when the mind has investigated time and again, ceaselessly,
relentlessly, it will develop expertise in the affairs of the
khandhas. The physical khandha will be the first to be
relinquished through discernment. In the beginning stage of the
investigation, discernment will see through the physical khandha
before seeing through the others and will be able to let it go. From
there, the mind will gradually be able to let go of vedana,
saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana at the same time.
the matter simply, once discernment sees through them, it lets go.
If it has yet to see through them, it holds on. Once we see through
them with discernment, we let them go let them go completely
because we see that they are simply ripplings in the mind blip,
blip, blip without any substance at all. A good thought appears
and vanishes. A bad thought appears and vanishes. Whatever kind of
thought appears, it's simply a formation and as such it vanishes. If
a hundred formations appear, all hundred of them vanish. There is no
permanence to them substantial enough for us to trust.
then. What is it that keeps supplying us with these things or keeps
forcing them out on us? What is it that keeps forcing this thing and
that out to fool us? This is where we come to what the Buddha calls
the pabhassara-citta: the original, radiant mind. 'But monks,
because of the admixture of defilement,' or 'because of the
defilements that come passing through' from sights, sound, smells,
tastes, tactile sensations; from rupa, vedana, saρρa, sankhara,
and viρρana, that our labels and assumptions haul in to burn
us 'the mind becomes defiled.' It's defiled with just these very
investigation is for the sake of removing these things so as to
reveal the mind through clear discernment. We can then see that as
long as the mind is at the stage where it hasn't ventured out to
become engaged in any object inasmuch as its instruments, the
senses, are still weak and undeveloped it is quiet and radiant, as
in the saying, 'The original mind is the radiant mind.' But this
is the original mind of the round of rebirth for example, the
mind of a newborn child whose activities are still too undeveloped
to take any objects on fully. It's not the original mind freed
from the cycle and fully pure.
while we investigate around us stage by stage, the symptoms of
defilement that used to run all over the place will be gathered into
this single point, becoming a radiance within the mind. And this
radiance: Even the tools of super-mindfulness and super-discernment
will have to fall for it when they first meet with it, because it's
something we have never seen before, never met before, from the
beginning of our practice or from the day of our birth. We thus
become awed and amazed. It seems for the moment that nothing can
compare to it in magnificence.
shouldn't it be magnificent? It has been the king of the round of
rebirth in all three worlds the world of sensuality, the world of
form, and the world of formlessness since way back when, for
countless aeons. It's the one who has wielded power over the mind
and ruled the mind all along. As long as the mind doesn't possess
the mindfulness and discernment to pull itself out from under this
power, how can it not be magnificent? This is why it has been able
to drive the mind into experiencing birth on various levels without
limit, in dependence on the fruits of the different actions it has
performed under the orders of the ephemeral defilements. The fact
that living beings wander and stray, taking birth and dying
unceasingly, is because this nature leads them to do so.
being the case, we have to investigate it so as to see it plainly.
Actually, radiance and defilement are two sides of the same coin
because they are both conventional realities. The radiance that
comes from the convergence of the various defilements will form a
point, a center, so that we can clearly perceive that 'This is the
center of the radiance.' When any defilement appears, in
correspondence with that state or level of the mind, a very
refined stress will arise in the center we call radiant. Thus
radiance, defilement, and stress all three are companions. They
this reason, the mind possessing this radiance must worry over it,
guard it, protect it, maintain it, for fear that something may come
to disturb it, jar it, obscure its radiance. Even the most refined
adulteration is still an affair of defilement, about which we as
meditators should not be complacent. We must investigate it with
order to cut through the burden of your concerns once and for all,
you should ask yourself, 'What is this radiance?' Fix your attention
on it until you know. There's no need to fear that once this
radiance is destroyed, the 'real you' will be destroyed along with
it. Focus your investigation right at that center to see clearly
that this radiance has the characteristics of inconstancy, stress,
and not-self just like all the other phenomena you have already
examined. It's not different in any way, aside from the difference
in its subtlety.
nothing should be taken for granted. If anything has the nature of
conventional reality, let discernment slash away at it. Focus right
down on the mind itself. All the really counterfeit things lie in
the mind. This radiance is the ultimate counterfeit and at
that moment it's the most conspicuous point. You hardly want to
touch it at all, because you love it and cherish it more than
anything else. In the entire body there is nothing more outstanding
than this radiance, which is why you are amazed at it, love it,
cherish it, dawdle over it, want nothing to touch it. But it's
the enemy king: unawareness.
you ever seen it? If you haven't, then when you reach this stage in
your practice you'll fall for it of your own accord. And then you'll
know it of your own accord no one will have to tell you when
mindfulness and discernment are ready. It's called avijja
unawareness. Right here is the true unawareness. Nothing else is
true unawareness. Don't go imagining avijja as a tiger, a
leopard, a demon, or a beast. Actually, it's the most beautiful,
most alluring Miss Universe the world has ever seen. Genuine
unawareness is very different from what we expect it to be.
reach genuine unawareness, we don't know what unawareness is and so
we get stuck right there. If there's no one to advise us, no one to
suggest an approach, we are sure to stay stuck there a long time
before we can understand and work ourselves free. But if there is
someone to suggest an approach, we can begin to understand it and
strike right at that center, without trusting it, by investigating
it in the same way we have dealt with all other phenomena.
we've investigated it with sharp discernment until we know it
clearly, this phenomenon will dissolve away in a completely
unexpected way. At the same time, you could call it Awakening, or
closing down the cemeteries of the round of rebirth, the round of
the mind, under the shade of the Bodhi tree. Once this phenomenon
has dissolved away, something even more amazing that has been
concealed by unawareness will be revealed in all its fullness.
what is said to be like the quaking of the cosmos within the heart.
This is a very crucial mental moment: when the heart breaks away
from conventions. This moment, when release and conventional
reality break away from each other, is more awesome than can be
expressed. The phrase, 'the path of arahantship giving way to the
fruition of arahantship' refers to precisely this mental moment, the
moment in which unawareness vanishes. As we are taught, when the
path is fully developed, it steps onward to the fruition of
arahantship, which is the Dhamma the mind at its most complete.
From that moment on, there are no more problems.
phrase, 'the one nibbana,'
1 is fully realized in
this heart in the moment unawareness is dissolving. We are taught
that this is the moment when the path and the fruition which are a
pair come together and meet. If we were to make a comparison with
climbing the stairs to a house, one foot is on the last step, the
other foot is on the floor of the house. We haven't yet reached the
house with both feet. When both feet are on the floor of the house,
we've 'reached the house.' As for the mind, it is said to reach the
Dhamma or to attain the ultimate Dhamma, and from the moment of
attainment it's called 'the one nibbana.'
other words, the mind is completely free. It displays no further
activity for the removal of defilement. This is called the one
nibbana. If you want, you can call it the fruition of
arahantship, for at this stage there are no more defilements to
quibble. Or you can call it the one nibbana. But if you want
to give it the conventional label most appropriate to the actual
principle, so that nothing is deficient in conventional terms, you
have to say 'the one nibbana' so as to be completely fitting
with conventional reality and release in the final phase of wiping
out the cemeteries of the mind of unawareness.
n'atthi santi param sukham:
There is no ease other than peace.
refers to the stage of those who have no more defilements, who have
attained sa-upadisesa-nibbana alive, such as the arahants.
practice the religion means to attend to your own heart and mind.
Who is it that suffers pain and difficulty? Who is the suspect,
forever imprisoned? Who else, if not the mind? And who has it
imprisoned, if not all the defilements and mental effluents? To deal
with the situation, you have to deal directly with the enemies of
the heart, using your discernment, for only sharp discernment is
capable of dealing with the defilements until they dissolve away of
their own accord, as I have already mentioned. From that point on,
there are no more problems.
rupa, vedana, saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana, they're
simply conditions just conditions no longer capable of
affecting or provoking the mind. The same with sights, sounds,
smells, tastes, and tactile sensations: Each has its separate
reality. To each one we say, 'If it exists, it exists. If not, no
matter.' The only problem has been the mind that makes labels and
assumptions through its own stupidity. Once it gains enough
intelligence, it becomes real. All phenomena within and without are
real. Each has its own separate reality, with no more of the
conflicts or issues that used to occur.
reach the stage where 'each has its own separate reality,' we can
say that the war between the mind and defilement is over. When the
time comes to part, we part. If not, we live together, like everyone
else in the world, but we don't take issue with each other like
everyone else in the world, because we've made our investigation.
words 'inconstancy, stress, and not-self' don't refer to the
khandhas for which we are responsible, what do they refer to? So
now we have completed our studies our study of the three
characteristics (tilakkhana), rather than of the three
divisions (tipitaka) of the Pali Canon, although actually the
three divisions are nothing other than the three characteristics, in
that the three divisions are a description of the three
Inconstancy: the process of change. Stress. Not-self: The
khandhas are not us not us while we are living, so when we die
what is there to latch onto? When you see the truth in this way, you
don't worry or feel apprehensive over the life or death of the
khandhas. The mind simply perceives the modes in which the
khandhas behave and break apart, but by its nature it doesn't
disband along with the khandhas, so there's nothing to fear.
If death comes, you don't try to prevent it. It life continues, you
don't try to prevent it, for each is a truth.
completing your study of death, you become the ultimate person the
ultimate you. When you have completed your study of death, you don't
fear death 'If life continues, let it continue; if death comes,
let it die' for you have spread a net around yourself with your
discernment. You don't tremble over the truths of which the heart is
fully aware at all times.
That's enough for now. As it happens, we're at the end of the
Heir to the Dhamma
talk given to the monks at Wat Pa Baan Taad.
ordinary mind no matter whose when it doesn't yet have any
standards and meets up with things that drag it here and there in
the wrong directions, will tend to go rolling after those
preoccupations without let-up, to the point where it can't find any
foundation for sustaining its peace and calm. In terms of the
Dhamma, these preoccupations are called defilements.
see them when we begin to practice: The mind stumbles and crawls
along, not at all willing to follow the Dhamma, because the
defilements are strong. This is something I haven't forgotten, from
the time I first set out to practice up until now, because it's a
truth that lies embedded in the heart. How could I forget?
the very start of my practice, I was really in earnest because
that's the sort of person I was. I wouldn't just play around.
Wherever I would take my stance, that's how it would have to be.
When I set out to practice, I had only one book the Patimokkha
in my shoulder bag. Now I was going for the full path and the full
results. I was going to give it my all give it my life. I wasn't
going to hope for anything else. I was going to hope for nothing but
release from suffering. I was sure that I would attain release from
suffering in this lifetime. All I asked was that there be someone
who could show me that the paths, fruitions, and nibbana were
for real. I would give my life to that person and to the Dhamma
through the practice, without holding anything back. If I was to
die, I'd die with the practice. I wouldn't die with retreat. My
heart was set like a stone post.
first rains after I had set out to practice, I spent in Cakkaraad
District, Korat Province, because I hadn't been able to catch up
with Venerable Acariya Mun. I began accelerating my efforts as soon
as I got there, and it wasn't long before my mind attained
stillness, because I was practicing both day and night. I wasn't
willing to do any other work aside from the work of concentration
practice sitting and walking meditation in my own stumbling and
crawling way. My mind was able to quiet down, so I really
accelerated my efforts; but then, as I've told you before, it
regressed when I was making a klod.
2 Up to that point, I
was no mean hand at concentration. It was really solid. I was sure
that the paths, fruitions, and nibbana were for real, because
the mind was really solid. It wasn't affected by anything at all.
But even then it still managed to regress just because I made a
reached Venerable Acariya Mun, he taught me the Dhamma as if it came
straight out of his heart. He would never use the words, 'It seems
to be...,' because it really came right out of his heart how he
had practiced, what he had known and seen. It was as if he kept
saying, 'Right here. Right here.' So did he see or didn't he? Did he
know or didn't he? 'Right here.' Where were the paths, fruitions,
and nibbana? 'Right here. Right here.' My mind was convinced,
really convinced. From that point on I made a resolution: As long as
he was still alive, I wouldn't leave him until either he died or I
did. As for going off from time to time to practice on my own, I'd
ask to do that as a matter of course, but I'd take him as my base,
as if my home were with him. No matter where I'd go, I'd have to
return to him. So then I stepped up my efforts full speed.
dream I had I'll never forget it. I've told you all this dream
before, but it had such an impact on me that it bears telling again.
I had come to stay with him and made my resolution with full
conviction, with complete faith in him. There was no point on which
you could fault him. Whatever he did, inwardly or outwardly, was
right in line with the principles of the Dhamma and Vinaya. There
was nothing roundabout or evasive about him. That was why I had made
up my mind to stay with him. If he were alive today, I still
wouldn't leave him. I'd have to stay with him, although as a matter
of course I'd still go here or there from time to time, as I had
only around the fourth or fifth night after I had gone to stay with
him... this dream, you know, was really amazing. I dreamed that I
was fully robed, carrying my bowl and klod, following an
overgrown trail through the jungle. There were no side paths on
either side. Both sides were full of thorns and brambles. All I
could do was to keep trying to follow the trail, which was just
barely a path, all overgrown, just enough to give a hint of where to
I reached a point where a thick clump of bamboo had fallen across
the trail. I couldn't see which way to go. There was no way around
it on either side. How was I going to get past it? I peered here and
there until finally I saw an opening a tiny opening, right along
the path, just enough for me to force my way through together with
there was no other way, I removed my outer robe that's how clear
the dream was, as if I weren't dreaming at all I removed my outer
robe and folded it away, just as we keep our robes folded here. I
removed my bowl strap from my shoulder and crawled through the
opening, dragging my bowl by its strap and pulling my klod
just within reach behind me. I was able to force my way through,
dragging my bowl, my klod and my robe behind me, but it was
really difficult. I kept at it for a long time until finally I
worked my way free. I pulled my bowl, and my bowl came free. I
pulled my klod, and my klod came free. I pulled my
robe, and my robe came free. As soon as I was entirely free, I put
on my robe again that's how clear the dream was I put on my
robe, slung my bowl over my shoulder, and told myself, 'Now I can go
on.' I kept following that trail-it was really overgrown for about
another 40 meters, wearing my robe, carrying my bowl and klod.
ahead, there was wide open space. In front of me was the ocean.
Looking across, there was no further shore. All I could see was the
shore on which I was standing and a tiny island, way out in the
distance, a black speck on the edge of the horizon. I was going to
that island. As soon as I walked down to the water's edge, a boat
I don't know where it came from and I didn't notice whether it was a
speedboat or a rowboat or whatever a boat came up to the shore and
I got in. The boatsman didn't say anything to me. As soon as I sat
down in the boat and got my bowl and other things in, the boat sped
out to the island, without my having to say a word. I don't know how
it happened. It kept speeding, speeding out to the island. There
didn't seem to be any dangers or waves or anything at all. We went
silently and in no time at all we arrived because, after all, it
was a dream.
as I reached the island, I got my things out of the boat and went
ashore. The boat disappeared completely, without my saying even a
word to the boatsman. I slung my bowl over my shoulder and climbed
up the island. I kept climbing until I saw Venerable Acariya Mun
sitting on a small bench, pounding his betel nut and watching me
climb up towards him. 'Maha,' he said, 'how did you get here? Since
when has anyone come that way? How were you able to make it here?'
That trail is really difficult. Nobody dares risk his life coming
that way. Very well then, now that you're here, pound my betel for
me.' He handed me his betel pounder, and so I pounded away chock,
chock, chock. After the second or third chock, I woke up. I felt
really disappointed. I wished I could have continued with the dream
to see at least how it ended.
morning I went to tell my dream to Venerable Acariya Mun. He
interpreted it very well. 'This dream, you know,' he said, 'is very
auspicious. It shows the pattern for your practice without any
deviations. Follow the practice in the way that you've dreamed. In
the beginning, it'll be extremely difficult.' That's what he said.
'You have to give it your best. Don't retreat. The beginning will be
difficult. The part where you made it through the clump of bamboo:
That's the difficult part. So give it your best. Don't you ever
retreat. Once you get past that, it's all wide open. You'll get to
the island without any trouble. That's not the hard point. The hard
point is right here.'
listened to him, really listened to him, and it went straight to the
heart. 'Even if it kills you, don't retreat at this point.
Here at the beginning is the hardest part where the mind advances
and regresses. This part is so hard that you'll want to go smash
your head against that mountain over there out of frustration. The
mind advances and regresses, over and over again. Once you get past
this point, though, you'll make progress easily, without any
obstacles at all. That's all there is to it. Give it your best at
the beginning and don't retreat. Understand?' That's what he said.
'If you retreat here, you won't get anywhere. So give it your life.
Strike your way through right here. After all, your vision says you
can make it. No matter how difficult it gets, you can make it. So
remembered his words and took them to heart happy and pleased. I
kept practicing until that following April in line with what he had
said. The mind had regressed ever since December the previous year
until December of that year and then on into April. It still hadn't
advanced. It would advance to full strength and then deteriorate,
again and again, for a year. It wasn't until April that I found a
new approach, focusing on my meditation theme in a new way so that
it was really solid. From that point on I was able to sit in
meditation all night long. The mind was able to settle down in full
measure, which is why I accelerated my efforts from then on.
Speaking of the difficulty, that's how difficult it really was for
there on in, the mind was centered and never regressed. The way it
had regressed before was an excellent teacher. I'd absolutely refuse
to let it regress again: That was how I felt. If it regressed
again, I'd die. I couldn't stand to stay in the world bearing
the mass of suffering that would come if it regressed again, because
I had already been through it once more than a year of the most
acute suffering. There's no suffering that burns more than the
suffering that comes when the mind regresses. If it were to regress
again, it'd kill me, which was why I was really meticulous in
keeping watch over myself from then on. I wouldn't let the mind
regress, and so it kept on progressing.
first time I saw the marvelousness of the mind was when I began
sitting in meditation all night right from the very first night. I
was investigating pain, and was it ever severe! At first I hadn't
planned on sitting until dawn, you know. I was simply sitting along,
and the pain began to grow. No matter how I contemplated it, I
didn't get anywhere at all. 'Eh. What is this? Okay, if I'm going to
die today, let me die.' So I made resolution in that moment: 'From
this moment on, I won't get up until dawn. So. If I survive, so be
it. If not, so be it.'
struck right into the pain, to the point where the mind, which had
never examined anything in that way... Discernment had never moved
into action that way, you know, but when it was really cornered, at
the end of its rope, discernment stirred itself into action, keeping
up with events from every angle until it was fully alert to the
pain, alert to the body, and understood the affairs of the mind.
Each was a separate reality. They then split away from one another
and disappeared completely, even though nothing like that had ever
happened to me before. The body disappeared from my sense of
awareness. The pain completely vanished. All that was left was an
awareness that was simply aware. It wasn't the sort of
outstanding awareness we might imagine it to be. It was just simple
awareness, but very subtle, very refined, and very amazing in that
retreated from that state, I renewed my investigation, but when I
used the strategies I had used before, I didn't get any results,
because they were now allusions to the past. I had to come up
with new strategies to keep up with the events of the moment.
The mind then settled down again. That night, it settled down three
times, and then dawn came. Was I ever amazed at myself!
morning when I got the chance, I went to tell Venerable Acariya Mun.
Normally, I'd be very intimidated by him, but that morning I wasn't
intimidated at all. I wanted to tell him the truth, so that he could
see the results of my being true how I had practiced so that
things had occurred that way. I spoke with audacity, even though I
had never spoken that way with him before. I really told it to him
straight crash! bang! and after he had listened, he said,
'That's the way it's got to be.' That's just what he said! He really
let me have it. He explained things to my complete satisfaction. It
was as if I were a dog: As soon as he praised and spurred me on,
this stupid dog I was, was all raring to bark and bite.
one or two more days, I sat up in meditation all night again. After
another two or three more days, I did it again, until the mind was
thoroughly amazed. The affairs of death, you know, disappear when
the mind really knows. When you separate the elements (dhatu)
and khandhas to look at life and death, the four elements of
earth, water, wind, and fire dissolve down into their original
properties as earth, water, wind, and fire. Space returns to its
original property as space. The mind that used to fear death becomes
even more prominent. So what is there to die? When it knows so
prominently in this way, how can it die? The mind doesn't die.
So what does it fear? We've been lied to. The world of defilements
has been lying to us. ('Lying,' here, means that defilement has lied
to the living beings of the world, making them fear death, even
though actually nothing dies.)
I'd investigate one day, I'd get one approach; another day, I'd get
another approach, but they were all hard-hitting and amazing. The
mind was more and more amazing and brave, to the point where I felt,
'When the time comes to die, what sort of pain do they think they're
going to bring out to fool me? Every facet of today's pain is
complete in every way. Beyond this, there's simply death. I've seen
all these pains, understood them all, and dealt with them all. So
when the time comes to die, what sort of pain are they going to
bring out to deceive me? There's no way they can deceive me. The
pain will have to be just this sort of pain. As for death, nothing
dies. So what is there to fear aside from the defilements that lie
to us, making us fall for their fake tricks and deceits? From this
point on, I'll never fall for their tricks again.'
the way the mind is when it knows, and it knew clearly right from
the very first night. As for the mental state that had progressed
and regressed, up to that first night it hadn't regressed. Beginning
that previous April, it hadn't regressed but it still wasn't clear.
That first night, though, it became clear: 'Oh. This is how it's
supposed to be, the mind that doesn't regress.' It was as if it had
been climbing up and falling down, climbing up and falling down,
until finally it climbed up and grabbed hold tight, 100 per cent
sure that it wouldn't regress. This was why I stepped up my efforts
that Rains Retreat (vassa), I sat up all night in meditation
nine or ten times, but never two nights in a row. Sometimes I'd skip
two or three nights, sometimes six or seven. I got to the point
where I was completely sure about pain heavy or light, big or
small. I understood how to deal with pain, how to sidestep it, how
to cure it right in time, without being shaken by it. I wasn't even
afraid of death, because I had investigated it with the most
completely adroit strategies. Mindfulness and discernment were
completely up on death in every way.
Speaking of effort in the practice, my tenth rains beginning from
the April after my ninth rains was when I made the most all-out
effort. In all my life, I have never made a more vigorous effort, in
terms of the body, than I did during my tenth rains. The mind went
all out, and so did the body. From that point on, I kept making
progress until the mind was like rock. In other words, I was skilled
enough in the solidity and stability of my concentration that the
mind was like a slab of rock. It couldn't easily be affected by
anything at all and then I was stuck on that concentration for
five full years.
was able to get past that concentration, thanks to the hard-hitting
Dhamma of Venerable Acariya Mun, I set out to investigate. When I
began to investigate with discernment, things went quickly and
easily because my concentration was fully prepared. It was as if all
the materials for building a house were right at hand, but I hadn't
yet put them together into a house, and so they were just useless
pieces of wood. My concentration simply stopped at concentration
that way. When I didn't put it together into mindfulness and
discernment, it couldn't support anything at all, which is why I had
to set out investigating in the way with which Venerable Acariya Mun
hit me over the head.
as he hit me, I set out; and no sooner had I set out than I began to
know what was what. I was able to kill off that defilement, cut this
one down, step by step. I began to wake up: 'Here I've been lying in
concentration as if I were dead for all these months, all these
years and it hasn't accomplished a thing!' So now I stepped up my
efforts at discernment, making it spin day and night without
anything to put a brake on it at all.
you know, I'm the sort of person who goes to extremes. Whatever tack
I set out on, that's the only tack I take. When I began following
the path of discernment, I started criticizing concentration as
being like lying down dead. Actually, concentration is a means for
resting the mind. If you practice just right, that's the way it is.
But instead, I criticized concentration as being like lying down
dead. 'All these years, and it hasn't given rise to discernment.'
stepped up my efforts at discernment, beginning first with the body.
When I contemplated unattractiveness, it was remarkable, you know.
Really remarkable. The mind, when it contemplated, was adroit and
audacious. I could perceive right through whatever I looked at
man, woman, no matter how young. To tell you frankly how really
audacious the mind was (and here I have to ask the forgiveness of
both the men and women involved if it's wrong to speak too frankly),
it wouldn't have to be a question of old women, you know. If the
gathering was full of young women, I could march right in without
any sign of lust appearing at all. That's how daring the mind was
because of its contemplation of unattractiveness.
at a person, there would just be the bones wrapped up in skin,
nothing but flesh all glaring and red. So where could I see any
beauty? The power of the unattractiveness was really strong. No
matter whose body I looked at, that's how I'd perceive it. So where
would there be any beauty to make me feel desire? This was why I'd
dare march right in... really beautiful young women, you know. (I'll
have to keep asking forgiveness until I've finished with this
'forest madness.') I could march right in with no trouble at all
when I felt daring like this, because I was sure of my strength.
this daring wasn't right, in terms of the point at which the mind
really had its fill of lust, which is why I criticized myself
afterwards, after the mind had passed this point. This daring was a
kind of madness, but while I was following the path, it was right,
because that was how I had to follow it through. This is like
criticizing food after you've eaten your fill. Right or wrong, it's
the same sort of thing.
contemplated unattractiveness until no physical desire appeared at
all. It gradually faded away, all on its own, without giving any
reason at any specific time or place. It didn't give me any
assurance that lust or passion for the male or female body had
disappeared at this or that point in time and place, so I had to
deliberate again. I wouldn't go along with this simple fading away
on its own. That is, my mind wouldn't accept it. If lust had been
wiped out at any particular point, there should have been some sort
of indication, so that I could know clearly that it was all gone for
this or that reason, at this or that moment, this or that place. It
should have had its moment.
the mind had to back up and contemplate to find various approaches
to remedy the situation. If it were really all gone, why hadn't
there been a clear indication that it had been wiped out at this or
that moment? As soon as I saw a person's body, I would perceive
right through it. There would be nothing but flesh and bones in that
body. It wouldn't be a beautiful woman or a beautiful person or
anything, because the power of my contemplation of unattractiveness
was so strong that I'd perceive everyone as a pile of bones. What
would there be to make the mind feel attraction or desire when it's
in a state like that?
had to turn around and take a new approach. If physical desire had
ended without leaving a trace at a particular moment, using a
particular strategy, why hadn't there been a clear indication? I
turned around and contemplated another way. I brought attractiveness
in to force out the unattractiveness the pile of bones covering
it with skin to make it beautiful. I had to force the mind, you
know. Otherwise it would immediately break through to
unattractiveness, because it was so adept that way. I forced the
mind to visualize the bones covered with skin so that they'd be
beautiful, and then had that beautiful body cling right to mine.
That was how I contemplated. I'd do walking meditation visualizing
the beauty of that body clinging to mine, clinging right to mine as
I walked back and forth. So. How much time would it take? If there
was any desire still left, it would have to show. If not, then let
me know that it was gone.
practiced this way for four full days without any physical
attraction or desire appearing at all. Even though it was an
extremely beautiful body, nothing appeared. The image kept trying to
change into a pile of bones wrapped in skin, but I forced the mind
to stay just at the skin level.
fourth night, tears began to flow. 'I've had enough. I give in.' In
other words, the mind wasn't feeling any pleasure. It said that it
had had enough, so I tested it again: 'Enough of what? If you admit
that there's no more desire, then let me know. I won't accept your
giving in like this. To give in like this is just a ruse. I won't go
along with it.'
on contemplating every facet to find which facet would make the mind
feel desire, to see at which moment the desire would arise, so that
I could then take whatever might appear and focus on it as the
object to be contemplated and uprooted. The night got later and
later, and I kept on focusing in but I wasn't focused on
contemplating unattractiveness at that point. I was contemplating
nothing but attractiveness for those entire four days, because I was
determined to find an approach to test and learn the truth of the
about 9 or 10 p.m. the night of the fourth day, there was a
flickering, as if the mind was going to feel lust for that beautiful
body that had been clinging to me constantly during that period. It
was a peculiar sort of flickering. Mindfulness was alert to it,
because mindfulness was there all the time. As soon as the
flickering appeared, I kept encouraging it. 'See that flickering?
We've caught the criminal who has been in hiding. See? So how can it
be gone? If it's gone, why does it have to behave like this?' I
focused in on it. That flickering was simply a condition of the mind
that appeared only slightly, with no effect on the body at all. It
was inside the mind. When I encouraged it, it would flicker again,
which proved that it wasn't all gone.
now that it wasn't all gone, what was I supposed to do?
had to take a new approach, by alternating my tactics. Since this
was a path I had never taken before, something I had never known
before, it was very difficult to proceed. As soon as I'd focus on
unattractiveness, attractiveness would vanish in the flash of an
eye. It would vanish extremely fast because I was already adept at
unattractiveness. As soon as I'd focus on unattractiveness, the body
would turn immediately into a pile of bones, so I would have to
focus on attractiveness to make it beautiful again. I kept changing
back and forth between the two this way. This took a long time
because it was a path I had never trod. I didn't understand, so I
had to try out different methods until I could be sure and settle on
one path or another.
finally came to the truth when I was sitting visualizing an image of
unattractiveness right in front of me. The mind focused on
unattractiveness standing still right there. I wouldn't let it move
or change in any way. I had it stay right there like that. If it was
an image of bones wrapped in skin or a pile of bones with the skin
removed, I had it stay right there in front of me. The mind stared
right at it, with mindfulness focused, waiting to learn the truth
from that image of unattractiveness, to see what it would do, how
this pile of unattractiveness would move or change.
I stared at it, that's how it would stay, because of the adeptness
of the mind. If I wouldn't have it destroy the image, it wouldn't
destroy it. I forced it not to destroy it. If I had focused on
destroying it, it would have been demolished in an instant because
of the speed of discernment. But I didn't let the mind destroy it. I
had it stay right there in front of me in order to exercise and
experiment to find the truth of which I could be certain.
kept focusing in, the image of unattractiveness standing there
before me was gradually sucked into the mind, absorbed into the
mind, so that I finally realized that unattractiveness was a matter
of the mind itself. The state of mind that had fixed on the idea of
unattractiveness sucked it in which meant that attractiveness
and unattractiveness were simply a matter of the mind deceiving
mind then let go in a flash. It let go of external unattractiveness.
It understood now because it had made the break. 'This is how it's
supposed to be. It's been simply a matter of the mind painting
pictures to deceive itself, getting excited over its shadows. Those
external things aren't passion, aversion, and delusion The mind
is what has passion, aversion, and delusion.' As soon as the mind
knew this clearly, it extricated itself from external affairs and
came inward. As soon as the mind would 'blip' outward, it knew that
these inner affairs were displaying themselves. So now the image of
unattractiveness appeared exclusively within the mind.
focused and investigated within the mind. But now it wasn't a matter
of that sort of passion. It was something very different. The
affairs of worldly passion now were all gone. The mind understood
clearly that things had to make the break that way. It had passed
its verdict. It had understood. So now that there was the image
appearing within, the mind focused within. As soon as it focused
within, it knew clearly that this internal image came from the mind.
When it disappeared, it disappeared here and didn't go anywhere
else. The instant after I'd focus on making it appear, it would
vanish. Before I had focused on it for long, it would vanish.
that, it was just like a lightning flash: As soon as I focused on
making an image, it would vanish immediately, so there was no time
to elaborate on its being attractive or anything at all, because of
the speed of the arising and disappearing. The instant it would
appear blip! it would vanish.
that point on, there were no more images in the mind. The mind
became a completely empty mind. As for external unattractiveness,
that problem had already been taken care of. I had understood it
from the moment it was sucked in toward the mind, and the mind had
immediately let go of external unattractiveness. It let go of
sights, sounds, smells, tastes, everything external because the
mind was what had been the deceiver. Once I understood this point
clearly, those other things were no longer a problem. The mind had
understood immediately and let go of external things once and for
the internal images had all disappeared, the mind was empty.
Completely empty. Whatever I focused on was completely empty. I'd
look at trees, mountains, buildings, and see them simply as shades,
as shadows. The major part the mind was empty all through. Even
when I'd look at my own body, I'd see it simply as a shadow. As for
the mind itself, it was empty clear through to the point where I
exclaimed to myself, 'Is the mind really this empty?' It was empty
at all times. Nothing passed into it.
though it was that empty, I would form mental pictures as a way of
exercising it. Whatever image I'd form would be a means of
exercising the mind to make it even more adept at emptiness, to the
point where after a single blip it'd be empty a single blip and
it'd be empty. The moment anything was formed blip! it'd be
empty right then.
point the point where the mind was empty in full measure this
awareness was also prominent in full measure. It fully comprehended
rupa, vedana, saρρa, sankhara and viρρana. It fully
let go of them on its own, without anything left. All that was left
was awareness. There was a feeling of relatedness and intimacy, a
very subtle sensitivity for this awareness that is hard to describe
in line with its reality. There was a feeling of absorption
exclusively for this awareness. Any other condition that arose would
vanish in the same instant.
watch over it. Mindfulness and discernment on this level: If this
were the time of the Buddha, we would call them super-mindfulness
and super-discernment, but in our day and age we shouldn't reach for
those labels. It's enough for our purposes to call them automatic
mindfulness and discernment. That's appropriate enough for them.
There's no need to call them anything more exalted than that, for
this doesn't deviate at all from the truth as it exists. This is why
the mind was prominent, and this prominence made it bright all the
I was doing walking meditation on the western side of Wat Doi
Dhammachedi. I had gone without food for three or four days, and
that day was the lunar sabbath, so people were coming to the
monastery to give alms. I went off to do walking meditation from
daybreak and came back only when it was time to receive alms in
front of the main hall. When I was standing in contemplation on the
meditation path, an uncanny feeling of wonder arose, to the point
where I exclaimed, 'Why is it that this mind is so amazing? Whatever
I look at even the earth on which I'm treading and see clearly
with my eyes why is it that the mind, which is the major part, is
completely empty? There are no trees or mountains in the mind. It's
completely empty, with nothing left. There's nothing but emptiness
filling the heart.'
there contemplating for a moment, when a kind of realization
appeared: 'If there is a point or a center of the knower
anywhere, that is the essence of a level of being.' That's what
it said, and I was bewildered.
Actually, the word 'point' referred to that point of the knower. If
I had understood this problem in terms of the truth that appeared to
warn me, things would have been able to disband right then and
there. But instead of understanding, I was bewildered because it
was something I had never before known or seen. If there was a
point, it would be the point of the knower. If there was a center,
it would mean the center of the knower. Where was it? There in
that knowing mind. That was the essence of a level of being. The
statement that appeared in the mind already said so clearly. There
was nothing at all wrong about it, but I was simply bewildered
'What is this?' so for the time being I didn't get any benefit
from it at all. I let more than three months pass by in vain, even
though the problem was still weighing on the mind. I couldn't set it
the time came for me to know, I was contemplating just the mind
nothing wide-ranging or anything because the mind had already
known everything on the blatant level. Whatever sights, sounds,
smells, tastes, or tactile sensations there might be throughout the
cosmos, the mind had already known, understood and let go. It wasn't
interested in investigating them. It wasn't even willing to
investigate rupa, vedana, saρρa, sankhara, or viρρana
at all. It was interested only in that conspicuous awareness,
together with the subtle feelings within the mind.
Mindfulness and discernment kept making contact with that awareness,
examining it back and forth. But you should know that the 'point' I
referred to was still a conventional reality. No matter how
magnificent it might be, it was still magnificence in the realm of
convention. No matter how radiant or splendid it might be, it was
still radiance and splendor in the realm of convention, because
there was still unawareness (avijja) within it.
Unawareness forms the essence of conventional reality. The point of
that prominence eventually began to show its ups and downs in
keeping with the very refined level of the mind so that I was able
to catch sight of them. Sometimes it was a little tarnished,
sometimes radiant, sometimes stressful, sometimes at ease, in line
with the refinement of the mind on this level, enough for me to
detect its irregularities.
Mindfulness and discernment on this level were very meticulous
guardians of this state of mind, you know. Instead of aiming my guns
mindfulness and discernment in on the mind, I had aimed them
outside, as unawareness had deceived me into doing. This is why
unawareness is said to be really cunning. There is nothing more
cunning than unawareness, which is the final point.
for example, is something blatant, easy to understand and plainly
harmful, and yet world is still content to feel greed. Think about
it! Anger is also blatant, and yet the world is still content to
feel anger. Infatuation, love, hate: All these things are blatant,
easy to understand and plainly harmful, and yet the world is still
content to feel them.
this was not the same sort of thing at all. It had gone way
beyond. It had let go of all those other things, but why was it
still attached to this radiance, this marvel? Now that it was
inside, it would become tarnished, just a little. It would display
stress, just a little which was a form of change and nothing
constant or trustworthy so that I could catch sight of it, using
mindfulness and discernment that were continually focused there at
all times without letup, trying to know and see how this state of
mind would behave.
Ultimately, there was no escaping it: I had to see that this state
of mind was nothing to be trusted, so I came to reflect, 'Why is it
that this state of mind can be so changeable? Now it's defiled, now
it's radiant, now it's easeful, now it's stressful. It's not always
constant and true. Why is it that a mind as refined as this can
still show such a variety of conditions?
as mindfulness and discernment had turned to take an interest in
investigating this state of mind, a totally unexpected realization
sprang up within the mind: 'Defilement, radiance, ease, and
stress: These are all conventional realities. They're all anatta
was enough. Mindfulness and discernment realized that that state of
mind immersed in unawareness was a conventional reality that should
simply be let go. It shouldn't be held to. A moment after this
realization arose to warn mindfulness and discernment, which were
acting as the sentinels at that moment, it was as if the mind,
mindfulness, and discernment each became impartial and impassive,
not stirring themselves to perform any duty at all. At that moment
the mind was neutral, not focused on anything, not alluding
absentmindedly to anything anywhere. Discernment didn't do any work.
Mindfulness was alert in its normal way, without being focused on
moment when the mind, mindfulness, and discernment were each
impassive and impartial was the moment when the cosmos in
the mind over which unawareness held sway trembled and quaked.
Unawareness was thrown down from its throne on the heart. In its
place, the pure mind appeared at the same moment that unawareness
was toppled, smashed, and eradicated through the power of triumphant
mindfulness and discernment the moment when the sky came crashing
down and the cosmos (within) trembled and quaked, showing its final
marvel on the border between convention and release. Judgment was
passed in the court of justice, with knowledge and vision of release
acting as judge. The middle way, the truth of the path, was declared
absolute winner, while the truth of the origin of stress was knocked
out and carried off on a stretcher, with no way of reviving ever
utterly astounded and exclaimed, 'Isn't it amazing? Isn't it
amazing? Where has this Dhamma been hiding? How is it that the
genuine Dhamma, this amazing Dhamma, exceeding all expectations
exceeding all the world has now appeared in the mind and is one
with the mind? And before where were the Buddha and Noble Sangha?
How is it that these tremendously amazing refuges have now become
one with the heart? Is this what the true Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha
are like?' They didn't fit in with any guesses or speculations at
all, but were simply a pure truth dwelling with a pure truth.
reflected with discouragement back on my fellow living beings with
regard to the Dhamma that was in my heart: 'Since this is what the
genuine Dhamma is like, how could it be brought out and taught so
that others would know and understand? Wouldn't it be more
appropriate to live alone until the day the body breaks apart,
rather than try to teach anyone?'
as I considered this, a kind of realization suddenly appeared to me:
'The Lord Buddha knew this amazing Dhamma all by himself but was
able to become the Teacher of living beings throughout the three
levels of the cosmos. How is it that I have been able to teach
myself and yet get discouraged at the thought of being able to teach
others? The way to teach, the way to know isn't hidden or
mysterious.' When I realized this, my discouragement at the thought
of teaching my friends gradually faded away.
event made me think of the first moments after the Buddha's
Awakening, when he wearied at the thought of taking the excellent
Dhamma in his heart and teaching it to the world because he felt
that it lay beyond the capability of other people to realize it.
Even though he had aspired to be a Teacher, to instruct the world,
he felt that the Dhamma he had realized was a Dhamma beyond reach,
that it would be hopeless to encourage the world to accept it and
practice so as to know it. But when he reflected on the path he had
followed to Awakening, he realized that the Dhamma wasn't beyond
reach or beyond hope, that there would be infinite benefits for the
world if he were to teach the way of the Dhamma whose results he had
come to see beyond a doubt. This was why he made up his mind to
teach the world from that point on.
reason I had felt the same way was because it was a Dhamma I had
never before seen or known, and it was a Dhamma utterly amazing.
When I looked solely at the results in the present, without
reflecting back on the causes the path I had followed I felt
disheartened and abandoned the idea of telling or teaching anyone
about this Dhamma. But since reflecting back on the path I had
followed, I have felt more like speaking and acting out the various
facets of the Dhamma, in line with the various levels of people who
have become involved with me, who have studied and trained with me
ever since, to the point where I have become a sham Acariya
as decreed by monks, novices and people in general. This being the
case, I've had to speak, teach, preach, and scold, heavily or
lightly as events may call for.
to beg the forgiveness of my listeners and readers for speaking in
an uncouth way to the point of being ugly, but when this scrap of a
monk was hiding out in the forest and mountains, he suffered
mightily while training himself by struggling in various ways on the
verge of death because of all sorts of sufferings without anyone
to provide him with a funeral. No one knew or was interested, except
for a few of those people in the forest and mountains on whom I
depended to keep my life going from one day to the next, who may
have known of some aspects of some of my sufferings.
this reason, the statement that the Buddha practiced to the point of
losing consciousness before gaining Awakening is a truth that those
who practice wholeheartedly for the sake of the Dhamma, the paths,
fruitions, and nibbana, have to believe wholeheartedly
without any doubt. Only those who have never practiced or had any
interest in practice, or who practice by tying pillows to the backs
of their heads and waiting for defilement to die, or dig graves for
defilement by lying down and waiting to rake in the paths, fruitions
and nibbana, won't believe in the difficulty with which the
Buddha and his Noble Disciples practiced.
Especially at present, when people are very clever: Whatever would
fly in the face of their already being wise and all-knowing, no
matter how right or good or fantastic that thing might be, they
aren't willing to use it to take the measure of their own wisdom.
As a result, their wisdom can't escape creating a lot of foolishness
for themselves and the common good. For this reason, the path
leading to depravity for the mind and the path leading to Dhamma
within the mind are very different.
who practice, the Dhamma says, are those who investigate and reflect
on every facet of the world and the Dhamma without being complacent.
No matter what posture we are in, no matter where, we should always
use mindfulness and discernment to look after ourselves. We
shouldn't be concerned with the deficient or developed manners, the
good or bad behavior of other people, the points they give us or
take away, more than we are concerned with our own deficient or
developed manners, our own good or bad behavior and the points we
give or take away from ourselves. This is the path of the Dhamma for
those who practice the Dhamma, who are always embued with Dhamma.
The opposite way is the low path for those with low minds, with no
righteousness infiltrating them at all. This is a warning for all
those meditators who have come here for training to understand and
take to heart.
* * *
Dhamma I have related today is mostly personal and isn't appropriate
to be made public to people at large whose sensitivities may vary. I
myself might be open to criticism, and it might be harmful to the
attitudes of those who hear or read when the tape is transcribed
onto paper except for restricted circles of people who would
understand. To make this talk public thus goes against the grain
with me, but the extent to which I have made it public is out of
sympathy for those who have come for training in all rectitude and
who have pleaded with me to make it public as an example that those
who practice may follow for a long time to come.
is wrong in any way, I ask the forgiveness of all my readers. It's
with the thought that there will be many people endowed with
rectitude in the practice of meditation, both now and the future,
who might get some benefit from this outlandish talk, that I put up
with the embarrassment of having exposed my own stupidity in it.
Unawareness Converges, Concealing The True Dhamma, the True Mind
Dhamma talk was given as an answer to a question posed by one of the
more important senior monks of our day and age. The gist is as
was when I began to investigate into the converging point of the
cycle of defilement namely, unawareness. While I was
investigating, I didn't know that I was investigating unawareness. I
was simply thinking, 'What is this?' There was an uncertainty right
there, so I focused the mind there, directed my attention to
investigate what it was, where it came from, where it was going.
happened I hit the right spot: I say this because I didn't know that
it was called, or what unawareness was. Actually, unawareness and
its name are very different. We see its currents spreading out all
over the world, but those are only its branches. It's like trying to
catch an outlaw: At first all we can catch are his henchmen. Whoever
we catch is just a henchman. We don't know where the chief outlaw
is, or what he looks like, because we have never seen him.
catch lots of his henchmen, closing in on him, encircling him. This
is called laying siege to the outlaw. Our police force is very large
and very strong. Each person on the force helps the others, so they
have a lot of strength, surrounding the spot where the outlaw lies,
catching this person, tying up that one. Ordinarily when they're
asked, outlaws won't tell who their chief is. Whenever we catch an
outlaw, we tie him up until no one is left inside our siege line.
The last person left is the chief outlaw. The last person lies in a
strategic place, because his henchmen have to guard him well on all
sides so that no one can easily slip in to see him.
henchmen keep getting captured one after another until we reach the
cave in which the chief outlaw is hiding, and then we kill everyone
in there. This is when we know clearly that the wily outlaw has been
wiped out for good.
simply an analogy. To put it in other words, the mind's involvement
with anything is a branch of delusion. Regardless of whether the
delusion leads in a good or a bad direction, it's nothing but an
affair of unawareness and the branches of unawareness, but actual
unawareness itself doesn't lie there. So the tactics for
investigating it, if we were to use another analogy, are like
bailing water out of a pond to catch the fish in it. If there's a
lot of water, we don't know how many fish it contains. So we keep
bailing out the water until it starts receding lower and lower. The
fish gather together. Each fish, wherever it is, swims down deeper
into the water. The water keeps getting bailed out, and the fish
keep gathering together. We can see where each fish is going,
because the water keeps receding until at last, when the water is
dry, the fish have nowhere to hide, and so we can catch them.
sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations, together with the
mental acts that intermingle with them: These are like the water in
which the fish live. To investigate these things is not for the
purpose of taking possession of them but for the purpose of killing
defilement, in the same way that a person bails out the water, not
because he wants the water but because he wants the fish. To
investigate these things is not for the purpose of taking possession
of them but for the purpose of knowing them, stage by stage. As soon
as we know to a certain point, we are no longer concerned with that
point. We know the things with which we are involved, as well as the
fact that we are the one at fault for being involved, that our own
misunderstanding is what deludes us into loving and hating these
point, the scope of our investigation keeps narrowing in, narrowing
in, just as the water keeps receding. Whatever elements or
khandhas we investigate, they are just like external things in
general. There are no differences. On the material side, the
elements are the same elements. The difference lies in the acts of
the mind that display themselves but we aren't yet aware of them,
so we go labeling things in line with them, which is still one of
the branches of unawareness. But as our investigation seeps deeper
and deeper into the central area, the more clearly we see the things
that come to be involved with us, the more clearly we see the mind
as it goes out to become involved each time in the same way that
the more the water recedes, the more clearly we see the fish.
investigate, the more clearly we see phenomena outside and inside
the body, as well as our own mental concomitants (cetasika),
then the more clearly we see the point where the chief culprit lies.
As our investigation keeps closing in, the mind's focus grows
narrower and narrower. Its concerns grow less and less. The currents
sent out by the mind grow shorter. As soon as it stirs itself to
become involved with any object, we investigate both that object and
the stirring of the mind as it goes out to act. We see both aspects.
We see the causes and results on both sides, namely (1) the side
with which the mind involves itself, the things with which it is
involved; and (2) the one who becomes involved. Discernment keeps
moving in, step by step.
moves in and reaches unawareness itself, meditators for the most
part if no teacher has warned them in advance are bound to hold
to that as their real self. This is because they have investigated
and seen all things clearly in the heart, so that they are fully
wise to those things and have let them go, with nothing remaining
but what is it that knows those things? This is what they
take and cherish. This is termed unawareness converging, but it
turns into their 'self' without their realizing it. The mind gets
deluded there. The term 'unawareness' refers to this very
delusion about oneself. Delusions about outside things are not
matters of actual unawareness.
of our delusion about this, because of our delusion about that which
knows all other things, we forget to investigate and pass judgment
on what it is because when the scope of the mind narrows, it
gathers itself into a point. The point of the mind that appears at
this stage is a radiant mind, bright, cheerful, and bold. All
happiness seems to be gathered right there. What do these things
come from? If you were to call them results, I'd have to admit that
they are results. We could say that they're results of the practice
if we aren't deluded about this point. If we're still deluded,
these things are still the origin of stress. This is the central
point of the origin of stress.
we're meditators who are always interested in investigating whatever
comes our way, we won't overlook this. No matter what, we can't help
but become interested in investigating this point because we have
already investigated and understood all things of every sort to the
point where the mind won't make contact with them. If we take the
mind out to investigate anything, it won't make contact, because it
has already had enough of that thing.
every mental act that arises, arises from this point. Thoughts that
form, form from this point. The happiness that appears, appears
here. The happiness that appears undergoes changes we can see: This
is what makes us begin investigating again, because this is a level
in which we are very observant. When we observe the happiness, we
see that it isn't steady, for the happiness produced by unawareness
is a conventional reality. Sometimes it gets tarnished a little
just a little enough for us to know that it isn't uniform. It
keeps changing in that way, in line with its status as a refined
the point that we trust and believe in. Even those who practice with
intensity and extreme interest will fall for this point and become
attached to it if no one has explained it to them in advance. But
even though we trust in it, we can't help observing it if we are
interested, because that's all there is that attracts the heart.
This is what causes us to be attracted to it, to be content with
what appears. As long as we have been investigating, that's the way
it has been to the extent that we don't know what unawareness is
and so we believe that this will be nibbana, this point that
is bright and clear all the time.
the time' here means all the time for those meditators who are
persistent in cleansing it and who aren't entirely complacent in
their trust for it, who are very protective of this point and won't
let anything touch it. Such people use a great deal of caution. As
soon as anything touches that point, they will rectify it
they don't know what it is that they love and cherish. Even though
that love and cherishing is clearly a burden, they don't realize the
fact at that moment. Only when enough time has passed for them to be
ready to know will they become interested in investigating this
point. 'What is this? We've investigated everything of every sort,
but what is this?' Now the mind focuses in on that point.
Discernment probes in. 'What is this, for sure? Is it true yet or
not? Is it awareness or unawareness?' These doubts keep nagging at
keep on investigating and contemplating, using discernment without
ceasing because this is something we have never seen, never met
with before to see why we love it, why we are protective of it. If
it's something true, why do we have to love and protect it? Why do
we have to care for it? To care for something is a burden, in
which case this must be a hazard for the person who cherishes and
cares for it, or something that shouldn't be trusted even though
at that moment we still don't know what it is, whether it's really
unawareness or not, because we have never seen how true awareness
differs from unawareness, or how release differs from conventional
reality. This is where discernment becomes interested in
I'd say that this is something very elaborate and involved. If I
were to describe it in line with how I investigated it, or to
condense it so as to give the gist in a reasonable amount of time,
I'd summarize quickly by saying whatever makes an appearance,
investigate it. Whatever makes an appearance is a matter of
conventional reality I'm referring here to the refined phenomena
that appear in the heart. Ultimately, even that very point with its
brightness is the point of genuine unawareness. Focus down on it,
using discernment. Just as all phenomena in general are simply
phenomena, this nature is also simply a phenomenon in exactly the
same way. We can't latch onto it as being 'us' or 'ours' but
our protectiveness shows that we hold to it as being us or ours,
which is a mistake.
Discernment probes inward to see just what this is, as if we were to
turn around to look at ourselves. We look outside and see the earth,
the sky, the air. Whatever passes into our range of vision, we see.
But if we don't look back at ourselves, we won't see ourselves.
Discernment at this stage is very quick. It looks back and forth,
back and forth, to see this last point or this last stage, and its
investigation is just like its investigation of things in general.
It investigates not to take possession of its object but simply to
know its object for what it truly is.
this disbands, it's not like other things disbanding. When other
things disband, they go with a feeling that we understand them. But
this isn't like that. When it disbands, it disintegrates in an
instant, like a lightning flash. There's an instant where it acts of
its own accord or you could say that it flips over. It flips over
and disappears completely. When it disappears, that's when we know
that it was genuine unawareness because once this has disappeared,
nothing more appears for us to doubt.
remains is nothing like it at all. It's a pure nature. Even though
we have never seen it before, when it appears in that moment, there
is nothing to doubt and that's how the burden is all gone.
word 'I' refers to this genuine unawareness. It means that this
unawareness is still standing. Whatever we have been investigating
has been for its sake. Whatever we say we know, this 'I' is what
knows. Radiant? 'I'm' radiant. Light? 'I'm' light. Happy? 'I'm'
happy. 'Me,' 'I,' they refer to this. This is genuine unawareness.
Whatever we do is for its sake. Once it disintegrates, there is
nothing more for anything's sake. It's all gone.
were to make an analogy, it's like a water jar whose bottom has been
smashed. No matter how much water we may pour into it, nothing stays
in the jar. Everything that may be formed in line with the nature of
the khandhas can still be formed, but nothing sticks because
the vessel unawareness, the chief culprit has disintegrated. As
soon as sankharas form blip! they vanish. They simply
pass by, disappearing, disappearing, because there's no place to
keep them, no one who owns them. The nature that realizes that
nothing is its owner is a nature that has reached its
fullness. It is thus a genuinely pure nature and no longer a
burden that needs to be watched over or protected from danger ever
unawareness is what has been concealing the true Dhamma, the true
mind, all along. This is why we haven't seen the true, natural
marvelousness of the mind. For this reason, meditators who reach the
stage of this pitfall latch onto it as something marvelous, love it,
cherish it, are protective of it, and regard it as 'me' or 'mine':
'My mind is radiant. My mind is courageous and brave. My mind is
happy. My mind knows everything of every sort' but this nature
doesn't know itself, which is why the Buddha called it genuine
unawareness. Once we turn around and know it, it disintegrates.
Once it disintegrates, it's just like opening the lid of a pot:
Whatever is in the pot, we can see it all. Only unawareness keeps
the mind concealed.
purity is a truth that lies beyond the truths of stress, its origin,
its cessation and the path. It's a truth beyond the four Noble
Truths. Of the four truths, one pair binds, the other unbinds and
stops. What do they bind and unbind? They bind the heart, or keep it
covered; and they unbind the heart, or uncover it. They open up the
things that cover it so as to reveal its purity in line with its
truth. Its truth is already there, but the two truths of stress and
its origin keep it concealed, just as the lid of a pot conceals
whatever is in the pot so that we can't see it. The path the
practice opens it. The path and the cessation of stress open the
pot so that we can see clearly what's inside. Even though the purity
is already there, it's concealed by the first two truths and
revealed by the truths that unbind. This is what is bound, this is
what is revealed. Once it's revealed, there are no more problems.
pairs of truths are activities. Both are conventional realities. The
path and the cessation of stress are conventional realities. Once
they have performed their duties, they pass. Stress and the origin
of stress are also conventional realities. Once the two conventional
realities remedy the two conventional realities, that pure nature is
a nature that stays fixed.
see at that point is called release. Things are opened so that we
see release, or natural purity. The burden of the task is ended
right here. When the mind is pure, it doesn't confer any titles on
itself. As for external things, the worldly phenomena
(loka-dhamma) connected with external things, they're far away.
The worldly phenomena that we used to say were good or bad, pleasant
or painful in the heart, are no longer a problem once that point has
investigate to this level, it's not wide-ranging. If we can derive
an approach from the explanations given by a meditation master who
has known and passed this stage, we can make quick progress but
it's important that we not set up any expectations. Expectations
are not the path. Whatever appears, keep investigating and
understanding that point each successive thing as it appears.
That's the correct path.
'Unawareness' refers to the nature I have just explained. That's
genuine unawareness. All other things are just its branches. Like a
vine whose stem grows in one place but that creeps to
who-knows-where: No matter how long it is, it keeps creeping and
climbing. When we catch hold of it, we follow it in, follow it in,
until we reach its stem. Here's the stem. Here's the root. Once we
pull up the root, the whole thing dies.
same way, the branches of unawareness are many and long, so that
when we actually reach unawareness, we don't know what it is. But we
investigate it. Discernment probes on in. Even though we don't know
that this is unawareness, our investigation is on the right path,
and so unawareness opens up of its own accord, in the same way as
when we eat: Fullness appears clearly for us to see step by step all
on its own.
summarize the issue of whether unawareness is a factor of rebirth or
a factor of kamma: It creates levels of being, it creates
kamma relentlessly. These are both matters of the same cycle. It
keeps creating levels of being within itself. The mind can't lie
still. It simply keeps creating being and birth all the time. It
works at accumulating these things for itself, but for the most part
it accumulates things that weigh it down constantly, making it sink
to lower levels.
people talk about destroying the wheel of kamma, this
unawareness is what's destroyed. Once this is destroyed, there are
no more connections to create further levels of being and birth.
Even though the things that used to be involved with us continue to
become involved as they normally did, they pass by. They don't seep
in. They don't set up house and move into this spot the way they
used to. They simply pass by. And we know that this pure nature
doesn't connect with anything. We have seen the connections of the
mind, step by step, and when we reach the level where it doesn't
connect with anything, we know.
knowing the question of levels of being and birth, as to whether or
not we'll be reborn, there is no need to speculate, because the
present already tells us clearly that when there are no connections
to levels of being and birth inside us, as we plainly see, there are
no levels of being or birth to continue into the future. The factory
has been destroyed, and there is no way it can rebuild itself. There
is no way it can produce issues as it used to. The factory that
produced suffering has been destroyed once and for all.
phrase 'khandhas pure and simple' refers to this stage. The
khandhas are khandhas pure and simple, without any
defilements. If the mind isn't defiled, the khandhas aren't
defiled. They are simply tools. If the central part the mind is
defiled, each khandha follows it in being defiled. The body
becomes a means for increasing defilement in the heart. Vedana,
saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana all become means for
increasing defilement in the heart. If the mind is pure, the
khandhas for their part are also pure. Nothing is defiled. But
if the mind is defiled, the khandhas are defiled all the
livelong day. This is the way the truth is.
creation of being and birth is a matter of the mind that keeps
producing itself. It can't stay still. A mind that has the cycle in
charge of its work or supervising its work will have to keep itself
spinning all the time. Whatever thoughts it spins are for the sake
of creating being and birth. As soon as the cycle disintegrates,
there is nothing to create being and birth any more.
whose minds have attained realization exclaim spontaneously in the
heart to proclaim the Dhamma unabashedly to the world, saying that
there are no more levels of being in which they
be reborn as when the Buddha exclaimed,
3 because he knew
right in the present that there was nothing creating itself.
Goodness stayed in its own territory and didn't seep in, didn't
mingle. Evil stayed in its own territory and didn't seep in or
mingle. They didn't come running in. When we say that they didn't
come running in, it's not that he forced them not to. It was simply
their own nature. When these things come running in we don't force
them to. There's simply a medium along which they run. When there's
no more medium, they disconnect of their own accord.
seemed to me when I was investigating this when unawareness
disappeared that there was a moment that let me know very clearly.
It was a moment an instant I hadn't anticipated or expected. It
was an instant that grabbed my attention. The instant unawareness
disappeared was an instant in which it displayed itself, as if it
flipped itself over into a new world (if you were to call it a
world). It flipped in the flash of an eye and vanished in the same
instant, although this wasn't anything I had anticipated. I hadn't
intended for it to flip. It happened of its own accord. This is
something very subtle that is impossible for me to describe
correctly in line with the truth of that instant.
practicing the religion, if we practice it really to gain release
from suffering, there are two intricate points. To separate the
attachments between the mind and the body: This is one intricate
point; and then this second intricate point that was the final point
of my ability. Other than that there's nothing devious.
when I went to practice at Wat Doi Dhammachedi, the problem of
unawareness had me bewildered for quite some time. At that stage the
mind was so radiant that I came to marvel at its radiance.
Everything of every sort that could make me marvel seemed to have
gathered there in the mind, to the point where I began to marvel at
myself, 'Why is it that my mind is so marvelous?' Looking at the
body, I couldn't see it at all. It was all space empty. The mind
was radiant in full force.
luckily, as soon as I began to marvel at myself to the point of
exclaiming deludedly in the heart without being conscious of it if
we speak on the level of refined Dhamma, it was a kind of delusion;
it was amazed at itself, 'Why has my mind come so far?' at that
moment, a statement of Dhamma spontaneously arose. This too I hadn't
anticipated. It suddenly appeared, as if someone were speaking in
the heart, although there was no one there speaking. It simply
appeared as a statement: 'If there is a point or a center of the
knower anywhere, that is the essence of a level of being.'
That's what it said.
phenomenon actually was a point: the point of knowledge, the point
of radiance. It really was a point, just as the statement had said.
But I didn't take into consideration what the 'point' was and so I
was bewildered. Instead of gaining an approach from the warning that
had appeared, I took the problem to chew over until I came to
consider the part about the 'point.' That was what ended the
problem. I then came back to understand clearly the matter of, 'If
there is a point or a center of the knower anywhere, that is the
essence of a level of being.' That was when I understood, 'Oh I
see. The words "point" and "center" refer to just this.' Before, I
hadn't understood. It really was a point. No matter how marvelous,
it was the point of the marvelousness. It was a point there to be
known. Once that disintegrated, there were no more points, because
every point is a conventional reality. No matter how refined, each
is a conventional reality.
why I am always teaching my fellow meditators: 'Once you've reached
that point, don't be protective of anything. Investigate on in. Even
if the mind should actually be demolished by that investigation, let
it be demolished. Whatever is left to be aware of the purity, let it
be aware or if everything is going to be demolished so that there
is nothing left to be aware of purity, then at least find out. Don't
be protective of anything at all.' I say this out of fear that
they'll be protective of this thing. If they aren't warned that
forcefully, then no matter what, they're bound to get stuck. All I
ask is that they find out: 'Whatever is going to vanish, let it
vanish. Even if the mind is going to vanish from the power of the
investigation, let it vanish. There's no need to protect it.' When
investigating, you have to take it that far.
there's no escaping the truth: Whatever arises has to vanish;
whatever is true, whatever is a natural principle in and of itself,
won't vanish. In other words, the pure mind won't vanish.
Everything of every sort may vanish, but that which knows their
vanishing doesn't vanish. This vanishes, that vanishes, but the
one that knows their vanishing doesn't vanish. Whether or not we
try to leave it untouched, it keeps on knowing. But to try to
protect it is tantamount to protecting unawareness, because
unawareness is subtle. It's there in the mind. To be protective of
the mind is tantamount to being protective of unawareness.
then. If the mind is going to be destroyed along with it, let it be
destroyed. To make a comparison with slashing, slash right on down.
Don't let there be anything left. Let everything in there close up
shop and leave. To take it that far is just right.
you're hesitant, then you are sure to get stuck at this level.
That's why you can't let yourself be hesitant. You have to take the
defilements all out. Whatever is going to vanish, let it all vanish.
As for that which is in no position to vanish, it won't vanish no
matter what. To put it simply, it's as if bandits had gotten into
this house. If you're protective of the house where the bandits are,
then Bang! they'll shoot you dead. So if you should burn the
whole house down, then burn it down. If you let the bandits stay
there, they'll go on to destroy things that have more value than the
house. So be willing to sacrifice the house. Set fire to it. This is
called setting fire to unawareness. If the mind is really going to
vanish, let it vanish.
actually the mind doesn't vanish. Only when you have burned that
thing will you know: 'Oh the thing of value has been lying beneath
the power of unawareness. Unawareness has had it covered.' The
instant unawareness vanishes, this other thing is revealed. Instead
of vanishing too, it doesn't vanish, but if you're protective of
it you'll be stuck and will never get free.
period when I was investigating this point was after Venerable
Acariya Mun had passed away. I really felt at the end of my rope. I
couldn't stay with my fellow meditators. I couldn't stay with anyone
at all. They'd get in the way. They'd spoil the fun of my internal
efforts at investigation because at that time the mind was really
spinning. It had reached the level where it would spin and spin
without stopping. At the time, I called it 'spinning as a wheel of
Dhamma (dhamma-cakka), not as a wheel of rebirth
(vatta-cakka).' It spun to release itself. It spun all the time.
And as soon as it fully reached a state of enough, it stopped
completely and unexpectedly.
while, at first, I had been getting annoyed. 'The more I've
investigated this mind and the more refined it has become why
has the burden, instead of growing lighter, become so heavy like
this? And it doesn't have any sense of day or night why is it?' I
was getting a little concerned and annoyed. But even though I was
annoyed, the mind didn't let up. It kept spinning there, right
before my eyes. It kept spinning, scratching, and digging, looking
for things that I hadn't yet known or seen. Wherever I was caught up
at any point, it would keep digging and scratching its way away. As
soon as it made contact, it would immediately latch on and stick
with it. As soon as it understood, the matter would pass and
disappear. The mind would then continue probing. Had Venerable
Acariya Mun been alive at that point, things would have gone more
why I have taught my fellow meditators that I'll give them my all.
If I can't solve their problems, I'll take them to a teacher who
can. Those are the lengths I'll go to so that my fellow meditators
can put their minds to rest. And for this reason, I'm not willing to
have some of my talks recorded, because I let everything out. As
soon as I've finished, the sound vanishes. I talk just for those who
are there. People who didn't understand those matters would think I
was bragging. Actually, I speak in line with the truth and to
encourage my students: 'It has to be like this. You have to slash
into it like this.' That's just how I put it. It's as if I give
myself as a guarantee so that my students can be confident that what
I say isn't wrong and so that they'll feel inspired to apply
themselves to the effort with strength and resilience. Other people,
though, who didn't understand my motives or anything, would think I
was bragging. Instead of benefiting, they'd be harmed. Even if I
weren't harmed, they might be, so I have to be careful.
this reason, on some occasions and with some people where I should
really pull out all the stops, that's what I do. Otherwise I can't
put my mind to rest about them. We really have to give and take.
It's as if we both open up and give it our all to the point where we
keep nothing back, not even a cent. This is the way it sometimes is,
on some occasions, but not always. It depends on the situation, how
far we should go. If we go that far, then if other people listened
in, they'd think we were crazy.
myself, when listening to Venerable Acariya Mun talk: If he'd take
it that far, it'd go straight to the heart. For three days
afterwards I would feel as if the leaves on the trees weren't
moving. The atmosphere would seem absolutely still. The power of his
Dhamma blanketed everything because the people listening were
really intent on listening, the person speaking was really intent on
speaking, and so they reached each other. As for us, even when we're
told, 'This. This. It's like this,' we still don't see. It's like
pointing out things to the blind pitiful, when you think about it.
this reason, wherever I am, if I haven't bowed down to Venerable
Acariya Mun, I can't lie down to sleep, no matter where I am. Even
if I'm about to do walking meditation, I first face in his direction
and pay him homage. If there's a picture of him as a conventional
focus, I pay homage to his picture. If there's nothing, I take his
virtues and form them into a convention to which I pay respect. His
virtues will never fade for me. It's as if he hadn't passed away: a
nature that stays like that, as if he were watching me all the time.
why all the Noble Disciples who have seen the principles of the
truth of the Lord Buddha with their full hearts submit to him. That
is, they submit to the principles of the truth that are principles
of nature; they don't submit to his person or anything like that.
They submit in that the principles of the truth are now the same for
them and will never fade. No matter how far they may be from
him, that truth will never fade, because the truth is the same for
all of them. Even though the Buddha may have entered total
nibbana more than 2,500 years ago, this is not a problem that
has an impact on the truth appearing in our hearts. It's simply the
passage of conventional time or of the body that's all but the
principle of that truth is unmoving: always one who is pure. Whether
alive or totally nibbana-ed, it's one who is pure.
a truth that is fixed. Those who know this principle of the truth
all trust it in the same way, because the true Buddha, the true
Dhamma, and the true Sangha lie in the heart. The heart truly pure
is the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha in full measure, untouched
and undisturbed by time or place, unlike conventional realities in
Conventional Mind, The Mind Released
the mind has been well-cleansed so that it's constantly radiant,
then when we're in a quiet place, without any sounds for instance,
late in the still of the night even if the mind hasn't gathered in
concentration, we find that when we focus on that center of
awareness, it is so exceedingly delicate and refined that it's hard
to describe. This refinement then becomes like a radiance that
spreads all around us in every direction. Nothing appears to be
making contact with the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and
feeling at that moment, even though the mind hasn't gathered into
the factors of concentration. Instead, this is the firm foundation
of the mind that has been well-cleansed and displays a striking
awareness, magnificence, and sensitivity within itself.
this type of awareness, it's as if we weren't dwelling in a body at
all. This is a very refined awareness, pronounced within itself.
Even though the mind hasn't gathered in concentration, still
because of the refinement of the mind, because of the pronounced
nature of the mind it becomes a pronounced awareness, without any
visions or images appearing at all. This awareness is preeminent
exclusively in itself. This is one stage of the mind.
stage is when this well-cleansed mind gathers into stillness, not
thinking, not forming any thoughts at all. It rests from its
activity its rippling. All thought-formations within the mind rest
completely. All that remains is simple awareness which is called
the mind entering into stillness. Here even more so, nothing appears
at all. All that appears is awareness, as if it were blanketing the
entire cosmos because the currents of the mind aren't like the
currents of light. The currents of light have their end, near or
far, depending on the strength of the light. For example, with
electric light, if the candle power is high, it will shine for a
long distance. If low, it will shine for a short distance.
currents of the mind aren't like that. They have no 'near' or 'far.'
To put it simply, there is no time or place. The mind can blanket
everything. Far is like near. 'Near,' 'far': They don't really
apply. All that appears is that awareness blanketing everything to
the ends of the universe. It's as if all that appears in the entire
world is this single awareness, as if there were nothing in our
consciousness at all, even though everything still exists as it
always has. This is what it's like: the power of the mind, the
current of the mind that has been cleansed of things that cloud and
more so when the mind is completely pure: This is even harder to
describe. I wouldn't know how to label it, because it's not
something to be labeled. It's not something that can be expressed
like conventional things in general, because it's not a conventional
reality. It lies solely within the range of those who are
non-conventional, who know their own non-conventionality. For this
reason, it can't be described.
the world is full of conventions. Whatever we say, we need to use a
conventional picture, a supposition, to make comparisons in every
case. 'It seems like this. It seems like that.' Or, 'It's like this.
It's like that. It's similar to that.' For example, take the word,
'nibbana.' Ordinary defilement our ordinary mind requires
that we think of nibbana as broad and spacious, with nothing
appearing in it. But we forget that the word nibbana, which
is a conventional word, still has some conventionality to it. We
might even think that there's nothing in nibbana but pure
people milling around both men and women, because they both can
reach purity: Nibbana has nothing but those who are pure,
milling around to and fro, or sitting around in comfort and peace
without being disturbed by sadness, discontent, or loneliness as we
are in our conventional world so full of turmoil and stress.
Actually, we don't realize that this picture of pure men and women
milling or sitting around happily at their leisure without anything
disturbing them is simply a convention that can't have anything to
do with the release of actual nibbana at all. When we talk
about things that are beyond the range of convention even though
they may not be beyond the range of the speaker's awareness, even
though they may be well within that person's range they can't be
expressed in conventional terms. Whatever is expressed is bound to
be interpreted wrongly, because ordinarily the mind is always ready
to be wrong, or continues to be wrong within itself. As soon as
anything comes flashing out, we have to speculate and guess in line
with our incorrect and uncertain understanding like Ven. Yamaka
saying to Ven. Sariputta that an arahant no longer exists after
Yamaka was still an ordinary, run-of-the-mill person, but even
though Ven. Sariputta, who was an arahant, tried to explain things
to him, he still wouldn't understand, until the Lord Buddha had to
come and explain things himself. Even then if I'm not mistaken
Ven. Yamaka still didn't understand in line with the truth the
Buddha explained to him. As I remember, the texts say that Ven.
Yamaka didn't attain any of the paths and fruitions or nibbana
or anything. Still, there must have been a reason for the Buddha's
explanation. If there were nothing to be gained by teaching, the
Buddha wouldn't teach. In some cases, even when the person being
taught didn't benefit much from the Dhamma, other people involved
would. This is one of the traits of the Lord Buddha. There had to be
a reason for everything he'd say. If there was something that would
benefit his listeners, he'd speak. If not, he wouldn't. This is the
nature of the Buddha: fully reasonable, fully accomplished in
everything of every sort. He wouldn't make empty pronouncements in
the way of the rest of the world.
he spoke to Ven. Yamaka, I'm afraid I've forgotten the details
because it's been so long since I read it to the point where
I've forgotten who benefited on that occasion, or maybe Ven. Yamaka
did benefit. I'm not really sure. At any rate, let's focus on the
statement, 'An arahant doesn't exist after death,' as the important
Buddha asked, 'Is the arahant his body, so that when he dies he is
annihilated with the body? Is he vedana? Saρρa? Sankhara?
Viρρana? Is he earth, water, wind, or fire, so that when he dies
he's annihilated with these things?' He kept asking in this way,
until he reached the conclusion that the body is inconstant and so
disbands. Vedana, saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana are
inconstant and so disband. Whatever is a matter of convention
follows these conventional ways.
whatever is a matter of release of purity cannot be made to
follow those ways, because it is not the same sort of thing. To
take release or a released mind and confuse or compound it with the
five khandhas, which are an affair of conventional reality,
is wrong. It can't be done. The five khandhas are one level
of conventional reality; the ordinary mind is also a level of
refinement of the mind so refined that it is marvelous even when
there are still things entangling it displays its marvelousness in
line with its level for us to see clearly. Even more so when the
things entangling it are entirely gone, the mind becomes Dhamma. The
Dhamma is the mind. The mind is Dhamma. The entire Dhamma is the
entire mind. The entire mind is the entire Dhamma. At this point,
no conventions can be supposed, because the mind is pure Dhamma.
Even though such people may still be alive, directing their
khandhas, that nature stays that way in full measure.
khandhas are khandhas just like ours. Their
appearance, manners, and traits appear in line with their
characteristics, in line with the affairs of conventional reality
that appear in those ways, which is why these things cannot be mixed
together to become one with that nature. When the mind is released,
the nature of release is one thing; the world of the khandhas
is another world entirely. Even though the pure heart may dwell in
the midst of the world of the khandhas, it is still always a
mind released. To call it a transcendent mind wouldn't be wrong,
because it lies above conventional reality above the elements and
transcendent Dhamma is a Dhamma above the world. This is why people
of this sort can know the issue of connection in the mind. Once the
mind is cleansed stage by stage, they can see its beginning points
and end points. They can see the mind's behavior, the direction
towards which it tends most heavily, and whether there is anything
left that involves the mind or acts as a means of connection. These
things they know, and they know them clearly. When they know
clearly, they find a way to cut, to remove from the mind the things
that lead to connection, step by step.
the defilements come thick and fast, there is total darkness in the
mind. When this happens, we don't know what the mind is or what the
things entangling it are, and so we assume them to be one and the
same. The things that come to entangle the mind, and the mind
itself, become mixed into one, so there's no way to know.
once the mind is cleansed step by step, we come to know in stages
until we can know clearly exactly how much there is still remaining
in the mind. Even if there's just a bit, we know there's a bit,
because the act of connection lets us see plainly that, 'This is the
seed that will cause us to be reborn in one place or another.' We
can tell this clearly within the mind. When we know this clearly, we
have to try to rectify the situation, using the various methods of
mindfulness and discernment until that thing is cut away from the
mind with no more connections. The mind will then become an entirely
pure mind, with no more means of connection or continuation. We can
see this clearly. This is the one who is released. This is the
one who doesn't die.
Lord Buddha from having practiced truly, from having truly known
in line with the principles of the truth, seeing them clearly in the
heart spoke truly, acted truly, and knew truly. He taught what he
had truly known and truly seen and so how could he be wrong? At
first, he didn't know how many times he had been born, or what
various things he had been born as. Even concerning the present, he
didn't know what his mind was attached to or involved with, because
he had many, many defilements at that stage.
after he had striven and gained Awakening, so that the entire Dhamma
appeared in his heart, he knew clearly. When he knew clearly, he
took that truth to proclaim the Dhamma to the world and with
intuitive insight knew who would be able to comprehend this sort of
Dhamma quickly, as when he knew that the two hermits and the five
brethren were already in a position to attain the Dhamma. He then
went to teach the five brethren and attained the aim he foresaw.
five of them attained the Dhamma stage by stage to the level of
arahantship. Since the Buddha was teaching the truth to those aiming
at the truth with their full hearts, they were able to communicate
easily. They, looking for the truth, and he, teaching the truth,
were right for each other. When he taught in line with the
principles of the truth, they were able to comprehend quickly and to
know step by step following him until they penetrated the truth
clear through. Their defilements, however many or few they had, all
dissolved completely away. The cycle of rebirth was overturned to
their complete relief.
how it is when a person who truly knows and truly sees explains the
Dhamma. Whether it's an aspect of the Dhamma dealing with the world
or with the Dhamma itself, what he says is bound to be certain
because he has seen it directly with his own eyes, heard it with his
own ears, touched it with his own heart. So when he remembers it and
teaches it, how can he be wrong? He can't be wrong. For example, the
taste of salt: Once we have known with our tongue that it's salty
and we speak directly from the saltiness of the salt, how can we be
wrong? Or the taste of hot peppers: The pepper is hot. It touches
our tongue and we know, 'This pepper is hot.' When we speak with the
truth 'This pepper is hot' just where can we be wrong?
is with knowing the Dhamma. When we practice to the stage where we
should know, we have to know, step by step. Knowing the Dhamma
happens at the same moment as abandoning defilement. When defilement
dissolves away, the brightness that has been obscured will appear in
that very instant. The truth appears clearly. Defilement, which is a
truth, we know clearly. We then cut it away with the path
mindfulness and discernment which is a principle of the truth, and
then we take the truth and teach it so that those who are intent on
listening will be sure to understand.
Buddha taught the Dhamma in 84,000 sections (khandha), but
they aren't in excess of our five khandhas with the mind in
charge, responsible for good and evil and for dealing with
everything that makes contact. Even though there may be as many as
84,000 sections to the Dhamma, they were taught in line with the
attributes of the mind, of defilement, and of the Dhamma itself for
the sake of living beings with their differing temperaments. The
Buddha taught extensively 84,000 sections of the Dhamma so that
those of differing temperaments could put them into practice and
straighten out their defilements.
should make ourselves realize that those who listen to the Dhamma
from those who have truly known and truly seen from the mouth of
the Buddha, the arahants, or meditation masters should be able to
straighten out their defilements and mental effluents at the same
time they are listening. This is a point that doesn't depend on time
Dhamma comes down to the mind. The mind is a highly appropriate
vessel for each level of the Dhamma. In teaching the Dhamma, what
are the things entangling and embroiling the mind that are necessary
to describe so that those who listen can understand and let go?
There are elements, khandhas, and the unlimited sights,
sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations outside us, which
make contact with the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and heart within
us. Thus it is necessary to teach both about things outside and
about things inside, because the mind can become deluded and
attached both outside and inside. It can love and hate both the
outside and the inside.
teach in line with the causes and effects both inside and out, in
accordance with the principles of the truth, the mind that
contemplates or investigates exclusively in line with the principles
of truth has to know, step by step, and be able to let go. Once we
know something, we can let it go. That puts an end to our
problem of having to prove or investigate the matter again. Whatever
we understand is no longer a problem because once we have
understood, we let go. We keep letting go, because our understanding
has reached the truth of those various things in full measure.
investigation of the Dhamma, on the levels in which it should be
narrow, has to be narrow. On the levels in which it should be
wide-ranging, it has to be wide-ranging in line with the full level
of the mind and the Dhamma. So when the heart of the meditator
should stay in a restricted range, it has to be kept in that range.
For example, in the beginning stages of the training, the mind is
filled with nothing but cloudiness and confusion at all times and
can't find any peace or contentment. We thus have to force it to
stay in a restricted range for example, with the meditation word,
'buddho,' or with the in-and-out breath so as to gain a
footing with its meditation theme, so that stillness can form a
basis or a foundation for the heart, so that it can set itself up
for the practice that is to follow. We first have to teach the mind
to withdraw itself from its various preoccupations, using whichever
meditation theme it finds appealing, so that it can find a place of
rest and relaxation through the stillness.
have obtained enough stillness from our meditation theme to form an
opening onto the way, we begin to investigate. Discernment and
awareness begin to branch out in stages or to widen their scope
until they have no limit. When we reach an appropriate time to rest
the mind through the development of concentration, we focus on
tranquillity using our meditation theme as we have done before,
without having to pay attention to discernment in any way at that
moment. We set our sights on giving rise to stillness with the
meditation theme that has previously been coupled with the heart or
that we have previously practiced for the sake of stillness. We
focus in on that theme step by step with mindfulness in charge until
stillness appears, giving peace and contentment. This is called
resting the mind by developing concentration.
the mind withdraws from its resting place, discernment has to
unravel and investigate things. Let it investigate whatever it
should at that particular time or stage, until it understands the
matter. When discernment begins to move into action as a result of
its being reinforced by the strength of concentration, its
investigations have to grow more and more wide-ranging, step by
step. This is where discernment is wide-ranging. This is where the
Dhamma is wide-ranging. The more resourceful our discernment, the
more its investigations spread until it knows the causes and effects
of phenomena as they truly are. Its doubts then disappear, and it
lets go in stages, in line with the levels of mindfulness and
discernment suited to removing the various kinds of defilement step
by step from the heart.
mind then gradually retreats into a more restricted range, as it
sees necessary, all on its own without needing to be forced as
before because once it has investigated and known in line with the
way things really are, what is there left to be entangled with? To
be concerned about? The extent to which it is concerned or troubled
is because of its lack of understanding. When it understands with
the discernment that investigates and unravels to see the truth of
each particular thing, the mind withdraws and lets go of its
concerns. It goes further and further inward until its scope grows
more and more restricted to the elements, the khandhas, and
then exclusively to the mind itself. At this stage, the mind works
in a restricted scope because it has cut away its burdens in stages.
there in the elements and the khandhas? Analyze them down
into their parts body, feelings, saρρa, sankhara, and
viρρana until you have removed your doubts about any one of
them. For example, when you investigate the body, an understanding
of feeling automatically follows. Or when you investigate feelings,
this leads straight to the body, to saρρa, sankhara, and
viρρana, which have the same sorts of characteristics because
they come from the same current of the mind. To put it briefly, the
Buddha taught that each of the five khandhas is a complete
treasury or complete heap of the three characteristics.
they have that's worth holding on to? The physical elements, the
physical heap, all physical forms, are simply heaps of the elements.
Vedana, saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana are all mere
mental phenomena. They appear blip, blip, blip and disappear in
an instant. What value or substance can you get from them?
Discernment penetrates further and further in. It knows the truth,
which goes straight to the heart, and it lets go with that
straight-to-the-heart knowledge. In other words, it lets go straight
from the heart. When the knowledge goes straight to the heart, it
lets go straight from the heart. Our job narrows in, narrows in, as
the work of discernment dictates.
the way it is when investigating and knowing the path of the mind
that involves itself with various preoccupations. We come in
knowing, we come in letting go step by step, cutting off the paths
of the tigers that used to roam about looking for food as in the
phrase from the Dhamma textbooks: 'Cutting off the paths of the
tigers that roam about looking for food.' We cut them out from the
paths of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body along which they used
to roam, involving themselves with sights, sounds, smells, tastes,
and tactile sensations, gathering up poisonous food and bringing it
in to burn the heart.
Discernment thus has to roam about investigating the body, feelings,
saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana by probing inward,
probing inward along the paths that the tigers and leopards like to
follow, so as to cut off the paths along which they used to go
looking for food. The Buddha teaches us to probe inward, cutting off
the paths until we have the tigers caged. In other words,
unawareness, which is like a tiger, converges in at the one mind.
All defilements and mental effluents converge in at the one mind.
They can't go out roaming freely looking for food as they did
mind of unawareness: You could say that it's like a football,
because discernment unravels it stomps on it, kicks it back and
forth until it is smashed to bits: until the defilement of
unawareness is smashed inside. This is the level of the mind where
defilement converges, so when discernment unravels it, it's just
like a football that is stomped and kicked. It gets kicked back and
forth among the khandhas until it's smashed apart by
discernment. When the conventional mind is smashed apart, the
mind released is fully revealed.
we say the 'conventional mind' and the 'mind released'? Do they
become two separate minds? Not at all. It's still the same mind.
When conventional realities defilements and mental effluents
rule it, that's one state of the mind; but when it's washed and
wrung out by discernment until that state of mind is smashed apart,
then the true mind, the true Dhamma, which can stand the test,
doesn't disappear with it. The only things that disappear are the
things inconstant, stressful, and not-self that had infiltrated the
mind because defilements and mental effluents, no matter how
refined, are simply conventions: inconstant, stressful, and
these things disappear, the true mind, above and beyond convention,
can then appear to its full extent. This is what's called the mind
released. This is what's called the pure mind, completely cut off
from all connections and continuations. All that remains is simple
awareness, utterly pure.
can't say at what point in our body this simple awareness is
centered. Before, it was a prominent point that we could know
and see clearly. For example, in concentration we knew that it was
centered in the middle of the chest. Our awareness was pronounced
right there. The stillness was pronounced right there. The
brightness, the radiance of the mind was pronounced right there. We
could see it clearly without having to ask anyone. All those whose
minds have centered into the foundation of concentration find that
the center of 'what knows' is really pronounced right here in the
middle of the chest. They won't argue that it's in the brain or
whatever, as those who have never experienced the practice of
concentration are always saying.
when the mind becomes a pure mind, that center disappears, and so we
can't say that the mind is above or below or in any particular spot,
because it's an awareness that is pure, an awareness that is subtle
and profound above and beyond any and all conventions. Even so, we
are still veering off into conventions when we say that it's
'extremely refined,' which doesn't really fit the truth, because of
course the notion of extreme refinement is a convention. We can't
say that this awareness lies high or low, or where it has a point or
a center because it doesn't have one at all. All there is, is
awareness with nothing else infiltrating it. Even though it's in the
midst of the elements and khandhas with which it used to be
mixed, it's not that way any more. It now lies world apart.
can know clearly that the khandhas are khandhas, the
mind is the mind, the body is the body; vedana, saρρa, sankhara,
and viρρana are each separate khandhas. But as for
feelings in that mind, they no longer exist, ever since the mind
gained release from all defilement. Therefore the three
characteristics, which are convention incarnate, don't exist in that
mind. The mind doesn't partake of feeling, apart from the ultimate
ease (paramam sukham) that is its own nature and the
ultimate ease here is not a feeling of ease.
the Buddha teaches that nibbana is the ultimate ease, the
term 'ultimate ease' is not a feeling of ease like the feelings or
moods of the mind still defiled, or the feelings of the body that
are constantly appearing as stress and ease. The ultimate ease is
not a feeling like that. Those who practice should take this point
to heart and practice so as to know it for themselves. That will be
the end of the question, in line with the Dhamma that the Buddha
says is sanditthiko to be seen for oneself and on which
he lays no exclusive claims.
cannot say that the mind absolutely pure has any feeling. This
mind has no feeling. The term 'ultimate ease' refers to an ease
by the very nature of purity, and so there can't be anything
inconstant, stressful, or not-self found infiltrating that ultimate
ease at all.
Nibbana is constant. The ultimate ease is constant. They are one
and the same. The Buddha says that nibbana is constant, the
ultimate ease is constant, the ultimate void is constant. They're
all the same thing but the void of nibbana lies beyond
convention. It's not void in the way the world supposes it to be.
know clearly, we can describe and analyze anything at all. If we
don't understand, we can talk from morning till night and be wrong
from morning till night. There is no way we can be right, because
the mind isn't right. No matter how much we may speak in line with
what we understand to be right in accordance with the Dhamma, if the
mind that is acting isn't right, how can we be right? It's as if we
were to say, 'Nibbana is the ultimate ease; nibbana is
the ultimate void,' to the point where the words are always in our
mouth and in our heart: If the mind is a mind with defilements, it
can't be right. When the mind isn't right, nothing can be right.
the mind is right, though, then even when we don't say anything,
we're right because that nature is already right. Whether or not
we speak, we're right. Once we reach the level where we're right,
there's no wrong. This is the marvel that comes from the practice of
Buddha taught only as far as this level and didn't teach anything
further. It's in every way the end of conventions, the end of
formulations, the end of defilement, the end of suffering and
stress. This is why he didn't teach anything further, because this
is the point at which he fully aimed: the full level of the mind and
of the Dhamma.
he totally entered nibbana, his last instructions were,
'Monks, I exhort you. Formations are constantly arising and ceasing.
Investigate formations that are arising and disbanding, or arising
and ceasing, with non-complacency.'
was all. He closed his mouth and never said anything again.
teaching, which has the rank of a final instruction, how should we
understand or interpret the word 'formation' (sankhara)? What
kind of formations does it refer to? We could take it as referring
to outer formations or inner formations and we wouldn't be wrong.
But at that moment, we can be fairly certain that those who had come
to listen to the Buddha's final instructions at the final hour were
practicing monks with high levels of mental attainment, from
arahants on down. So I would think that the main point to which the
Buddha was referring was inner formations that form thoughts in the
mind and disrupt the mind at all times. He taught to investigate the
arising and ceasing of these formations with non-complacency in
other words, to investigate with mindfulness and discernment at all
times. These formations cover the cosmos!
could, if we wanted to, analyze the word 'formations' as outer
formations trees, mountains, animals, people but this wouldn't
be in keeping with the level of the monks gathered there, nor would
it be in keeping with the occasion: the Buddha's last moments before
total nibbana in which he gave his exhortation to the Sangha:
the ultimate teaching at the final hour.
final exhortation dealing with formations, given as he was about to
enter total nibbana, must thus refer specifically to the most
refined formations in the heart. Once we comprehend these inner
formations, how can we help but understand their basis what they
arise from. We'll have to penetrate into the well-spring of the
cycle of rebirth: the mind of unawareness. This is the way to
penetrate to the important point. Those who have reached this level
have to know this. Those who are approaching it in stages, who
haven't fully reached it, still know this clearly because they are
investigating the matter, which is what the Buddha's instructions
given in the midst of that important stage of events were all
think, would be in keeping with the occasion in which the Buddha
spoke. Why? Because ordinarily when the mind has investigated to
higher and higher levels, these inner formations the various
thoughts that form in the mind are very crucial to the
investigation because they appear day and night, and are at work
every moment inside the mind. A mind reaching the level where it
should investigate inner phenomena must thus take these inner
formations as the focal point of its investigation. This is a matter
directly related to the Buddha's final instructions.
ability to overthrow unawareness must follow on an investigation
focused primarily on inner formations. Once we have focused in,
focused in, down to the root of defilement and have then destroyed
it, these formations no longer play any role in giving rise to
defilement again. Their only function is to serve the purposes of
the Dhamma. We use them to formulate Dhamma for the benefit of the
world. In teaching Dhamma we have to use thought-formations, and so
formations of this sort become tools of the Dhamma.
that we have given the khandhas a new ruler, the
thought-formations which were forced into service by unawareness
have now become tools of the Dhamma tools of a pure heart. The
Buddha used these thought-formations to teach the world, to
formulate various expressions of the Dhamma.
Dhamma we have mentioned here doesn't exist solely in the past, in
the time of the Buddha, or solely in the future in a way that would
deny hope to whose who practice rightly and properly. It lies among
our own khandhas and mind, in our body and mind. It doesn't
lie anywhere else other than in the bodies and minds of human
beings, women and men. The defilements, the path, and purity all lie
right here in the heart. They don't lie in that time or period way
back when, or with that person or this. They lie with the person who
practices, who is using mindfulness and discernment to investigate
Because we are all aiming at the Dhamma. We are aiming at the truth,
just like the Dhamma, the truth, that the Buddha taught then and
that always holds to the principle of being 'majjhima' in
the center not leaning toward that time or this, not leaning
toward that period or this place. It's a Dhamma always keeping to an
even keel because it lies in the center of our elements and
khandhas. Majjhima: in the center, or always just right
for curing defilement.
please practice correctly in line with this Dhamma. You will see the
results of 'majjhima' a Dhamma just right, always and
everywhere appearing as I have said. Nibbana, the ultimate
ease, will not in any way lie beyond this knowing heart.
I'll ask to stop here.
excerpt from a letter written by Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa to
Mrs. Pow Phanga Vathanakul, dated February 26, 1976.
practice of the Dhamma in keeping with the Dhamma that he gave with
utter compassion unequaled by that of anyone else in the world: This
is the true homage to the Buddha. The seeing of the truth that lies
within you, using discernment step by step at all times: This is the
seeing of the Buddha step by step. The seeing of the truth with the
full heart using discernment: This is the seeing of the Buddha in
full. The true Buddha, the true Dhamma, lie with the heart. To
attend to your own heart is to attend to the Buddha. To watch over
your own heart with mindfulness and discernment is truly to see the
Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha.
king of death warns and assaults the bodies of the world's living
beings in line with the principles of his truth. You have to greet
his warnings and assaults with mindfulness, discernment, conviction,
and unflagging persistence, and take out your treasures the paths,
fruitions, and nibbana to flaunt in his face, braving death
in the course of persistent effort. You and he, who have regarded
each other as enemies for such a long time, will then become true
friends neither of you to take advantage of the other ever again.
body and the khandhas are things that the world must
relinquish in spite of its regrets. You should relinquish them with
mindfulness and discernment before the time comes to relinquish them
in the way of the world. This is the supreme letting-go, second to
take this to heart, because it is written straight from the heart.
Acariya: Teacher; mentor.
Anatta: Not-self; ownerless.
Aniccam: Inconstant; unsteady; impermanent.
Arahant: A person whose heart is free of mental effluents (see
asava) and who is thus not destined for future rebirth. An
epithet for the Buddha and the highest level of his Noble Disciples.
arammana: Preoccupation; mental object.
Asava: Mental effluent, pollutant, or fermentation sensuality,
states of being, views, and unawareness.
Avijja: Unawareness; ignorance; obscured awareness; delusion
about the nature of the mind.
Ayatana: Sense medium. The inner sense media are the sense
organs eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The outer sense
media are their respective objects.
Brahma: 'Great One' an inhabitant of the heavens of form or
Brahman: Used in the Buddha sense, this term is synonymous with
Buddho: Awake; enlightened. An epithet for the Buddha.
Cetasika: Mental concomitant (see vedana, saρρa, and
Dhamma (dharma): Event; phenomenon; the way things are in and of
themselves; their inherent qualities; the basic principles
underlying their behavior. Also, principles of behavior that human
beings ought to follow so as to fit in with the right natural order
of things; qualities of mind they should develop so as to realize
the inherent quality of the mind in and of itself. By extension,
'Dhamma' is used also to denote any doctrine that teaches such
things. Thus the Dhamma of the Buddha denotes both his teachings and
the direct experience of nibbana, the quality at which those
teachings are aimed.
Dhatu: Element; property, impersonal condition. The four
physical elements or properties are earth (solidity), water
(liquidity), wind (motion), and fire (heat). The six elements
include the above four plus space and cognizance.
Dukkha(m): Stress; suffering; pain; distress; discontent.
Evam: Thus; in this way. This term is used in Thailand as a
formal closing to a sermon.
Kamma (karma): Intentional acts that result in states of being
Kayagata-sati: Mindfulness immersed in the body. This is a
blanket term covering several meditation themes: keeping the breath
in mind; being mindful of the body's posture; being mindful of one's
activities; analyzing the body into its parts; analyzing the body
into its physical properties (see dhatu); contemplating the
fact that the body is inevitably subject to death and
Khandha: Heap; group; aggregate. Physical and mental components
of the personality and of sensory experience in general (see
rupa, vedana, saρρa, sankhara, and viρρana).
Kilesa: Defilement passion, aversion, and delusion in their
various forms, which include such things as greed, malevolence,
anger, rancor, hypocrisy, arrogance, envy, miserliness, dishonesty,
boastfulness, obstinacy, violence, pride, conceit, intoxication, and
Loka-dhamma: Worldly phenomenon fortune, loss of fortune,
status, disgrace, praise, censure, pleasure, and pain.
Lokuttara: Transcendent; supramundane (see magga, phala,
Magga: Path. Specifically, the path to the cessation of
suffering and stress. The four transcendent paths or rather, one
path with four levels of refinement are the path to stream-entry
(entering the stream to nibbana, which ensures that one will
be reborn at most only seven more times), the path to
once-returning, the path to nonreturning, and the path to
Mara: Temptation; mortality personified.
Nibbana (nirvana): Liberation; the unbinding of the mind from
mental effluents, defilements, and the round of rebirth (see
asava, kilesa, and vatta). As this term is used to denote
also the extinguishing of fire, it carries the connotations of
stilling, cooling, and peace. (According to the physics taught at
the time of the Buddha, a burning fire seizes or adheres to its
fuel; when extinguished, it is unbound.)
Paρρa: Discernment; insight; wisdom; intelligence; common sense;
Parami: Perfection of the character generosity, virtue,
renunciation, discernment, persistence, forbearance, truthfulness,
determination, good will, and equanimity.
Parisa: Following; assembly. The four groups of the Buddha's
following are monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen.
Patimokkha: The basic code of 227 precepts observed by Buddhist
monks, chanted every half-month in each assembly of monks numbering
four or more.
Phala: Fruition. Specifically, the fruition of any of the four
transcendent paths (see magga).
Puρρa: Merit; worth; the inner sense of well-being that comes
from having acted rightly or well.
Rupa: Body; physical phenomenon; sense datum.
Sabhava-dhamma: Phenomenon; an event, property, or quality as
experienced in and of itself.
Sallekha-dhamma: Topics of effacement (effacing defilement)
having few wants, being content with what one has, seclusion,
uninvolvement in companionship, persistence, virtue, concentration,
discernment, release, and the direct knowing and seeing of release.
Samadhi: Concentration; the practice of centering the mind in a
single sensation or preoccupation.
Sammati: Conventional reality; convention; relative truth;
supposition; anything conjured into being by the mind.
Sanditthiko: Self-evident, visible here and now.
Sangha: The community of the Buddha's disciples. On the
conventional level, this refers to the Buddhist monkhood. On the
ideal level, it refers to those of the Buddha's followers, whether
lay or ordained, who have attained at least the first of the
transcendent paths (see magga) culminating in nibbana.
Sankhara: Formation. This can denote anything formed or
fashioned by conditions, or as one of the five khandhas
specifically thought-formations within the mind.
Saρρa: Label; perception; allusion; act of memory or
Sati: Mindfulness; alertness; self-collectedness; powers of
reference and retention.
Satipatthana: Foundation of mindfulness; frame of reference
body, feelings, mind, and mental events, viewed in and of themselves
as they occur.
Sa-upadisesa-nibbana: Nibbana with fuel remaining (the analogy
is to an extinguished fire whose embers are still glowing)
liberation as experienced in this lifetime by an arahant.
Sugato: Well-faring; going (or gone) to a good destination. An
epithet for the Buddha.
Tanha: Craving, the cause of stress, which takes three forms
craving for sensuality, for being, and for not-being.
Tathagata: One who has become true. A title for the Buddha.
Tilakkhana: Three characteristics inherent in all conditioned
phenomena being inconstant, stressful, and not-self.
Tipitaka (tripitaka): The Buddhist Cannon; literally, the three
'baskets' disciplinary rules, discourses, and abstract
Uposatha: Observance day, corresponding to the phases of the
moon, on which Buddhist lay people gather to listen to the Dhamma
and to observe special precepts. Monks assemble to hear the
Patimokkha on the new-moon and full-moon uposatha days.
Vassa: Rains Retreat. A period from July to October,
corresponding roughly to the rainy season, in which each monk is
required to live settled in a single place and not wander freely
Vatta: The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. This denotes both
the death and rebirth of living beings and the death and rebirth of
defilement within the mind.
Vedana: Feeling pleasure (ease), pain (stress), or neither
pleasure nor pain.
Vijja: Clear knowledge; genuine awareness; science
(specifically, the cognitive powers developed through the practice
of concentration and discernment).
Vimutti: Release; freedom from the fabrications and conventions
of the mind.
Vinaya: The disciplinary rules of the monastic order.
Viρρana: Cognizance; consciousness; the act of taking note of
sense data and ideas as they occur.
1. This is an indirect
reference to a passage in a Thai Dhamma textbook that reads, 'The
transcendent Dhammas are nine: the four paths, the four fruitions,
and the one nibbana.'
2. A small umbrella-like
tent used by meditating monks.
3. A reference to the
Dhammapada, verses 153-54:
Through the round of many births
I wandered without finding
The house builder I was seeking:
Painful is birth again and again.
builder, you are seen!
You will not build a house again.
All your rafters broken,
The ridge pole destroyed,
Gone to the Unformed, the mind
Has attained the end of craving.
4. See the Yamaka
Sutta and Anuradha Sutta in Samyutta Nikaya
anything in this translation is inaccurate or misleading, I ask
forgiveness of the author and reader for having unwittingly stood in
their way. As for whatever may be accurate, I hope the reader will
make the best use of it, translating it a few steps further, into
the heart, so as to attain the truth to which it points.