Check your own mind

Makha Bucha day (Māgha Pūjā) is the day when the Buddha laid down strategy for propagation of the Dhamma; what is the principal of propagation, what to propagate, the conducts of the propogators, what kind of Dhamma should be taught. Those of us who work with spreading the Dhama can look into this. It is not difficult to find out about Ovadha Patimokha. In the past people could not read, so the monks had to read for them. When people gathered at the temples for sermons, the monks would take out Buddhist scripts and read to them. Nowadays people can read. So find out by yourself for better understanding.

People in the old days tended to see things in terms of supersitions, that Makha Bucha day was the day that 1,250 Arhants (Enlightened monks) gathered without prior appointment. They saw this as a miracle. In a way, this was quite amazing considering that this was the time before mobile phones to call upon one another. But actually a group of 250 Arhants led by Sariputta (Buddha´s right hand disciple) were already with the Buddha at that time. And 1,000 ascetics from Gaya came as a group led by their leader.

Instead of seeing the event as a miracle, I view the event in terms of appropriation. That these monks deemed it appropriate to come and pay homage to the Buddha. The full moon day in the third lunar month was an important day at that time. These monks did not worship any devatā (celestial beings). They respected the Buddha and thus came to pay homage to the Buddha. At such big gathering of monks, the Buddha gave the assembly a discourse. This is a normal practice. On important days in the old times the revered Luang Pu Mun would give sermons when many monks came to pay homage to him. So this is a normal practice. It can be viewed as a miracle or can be viewed as something normal.
I would like you all to look at things in a more normal sense. Buddhists these days become more and more supersitious. In many temples they build holy images for people to worship. The main purpose is to get donation. When people go to these temples, they do not earn mindfulness or wisdom. This is not worthwhile for being Buddhists. So when you all come here, there is no holy imanges to worship. You can acquire real Dhama, pay respect to real monks, and discover real monkhood in yourselves. Real monkhood is the goodness in one selv, within one´s mind. Good or evil is in your own mind.


Study into your own mind

Study into your own mind and you will see that the mind is engulfed with defilements. These defilements command our mind to think the way they want. Once they can controll our minds, they come out through words and actions. We learn to practice Dhama and study into your own mind. When any defilement appears, we know so. Another defilement appears, we know so. The mind will eventually be released from the power of defilements. The mind will enter monkhood that is virtous and noble. Real monkhood is here, not in Buddha images, nor in any objects of worship.

Our own actions define whether our lives will be good or bad. It has nothing to do with worshiping holy objects. If we are to worship holy spirits and their imanges, we should pay respect to the goodness in them, those holy spirits who dwells in Dhama. Such as when we worship Brahma, we know that the Dhama for Brahma is Brahmavihara (Four sublime states of mind). Brahmavihara (sublime attitudes, lit. “abodes of Brahma“) is necessary for people in high positions, for leaders and governors. Without Brahmavihara people under their leadership would not be happy.

Even if we are not in high positions, we can still apply Brahmavihara in taking care of cats and dogs if we have them. Nowadays cats have been raised in status and the owners become their slaves. When we take care of our pets, we maintain Brahmavihara. Some people cry when their dogs die, thus lacking equanimity. You see, Dhama is not with the devatā. We worship Brahma, we should learn his Dhama, that is Brahmavihara, the dwelling place of Brahma which are loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity.

If we want to worship devatā, we should not ask around for blessings, or for money, or for getting pass examinations, or for not being enlisted as a soldier, or any other miscellaneous blessings. If we want to worship statues of devatā, we should think about the virtue of the devatā, that is moral shame and moral dread. Ashamed for evil conducts and dread for the consequence of evil conducts. When we worship Brahma, we should embrace the Dhama from Brahma. When we worship devatā, we should embrace the Dhama from the devatā.

It is important to practice Dhama according to course of practice from the Buddha. We must keep the precepts, we must the mind. I am not saying that we need to do meditation. I am saying that we need to learn about our own mind. We must keep the precepts (Sīla). We then have Sīla-sikkhā (training in higher virtue). We learn about our own minds, we will earn the right Samadhi (concentration). When the mind has right Samadhi, that is when the mind is stable and has fortitude without force or intention. We must then incline that mind in order to induce insight wisdom.

Jhana means wisdom. Inducing wisdom. Not wisdom from thinking, but wisdom from seeing. Seeing the body as it is, seeing the mind as it is. We need to elevate ourselves. If we are not able to elevate our mind to Dhama quite yet, we can pay respect to devatā or Brahma, in order to embrace Dhama from them. Then our minds can be cleaner and somewhat elevated. But if we worship in order to get our wishes fulfilled, we will drift further away from Dhama. We become the follower of Chuchok, keen to ask for things , and that is nonsense. For a while it was a trend to worship Chuchok, but the trend has faded out.

Recently there is a trend to worship the great Naga and Vessavana. The great Naga is not in heaven. Vessavana is in heaven, but in Catummaharajika, first level of heaven next to human world. In some periods it was popular to worship Indra. People tend to worship any thing including things that are made up. Some people worship Mae Nak Prakanong, Mae Nuan, wife of Phanthai Norasingh. These are fictive characters from novels that people worship. Some worship Ei Kai. They worship many things, as they do not want to rely on themselves. At many temples there are many objects for sales like flowers, candles, incenses, or other sacrificial offerings. When people go to these temples, they do not earn mindfulness nor wisdom.

We have the oppurtunity to visit the temple, we should do so in order to earn mindfulness and true wisdom, not to indulge in supersition. But we cannot really blame those people. Their factulties are still weak, so that is all they could do. They worship devatā, or ghosts. That makes them happy and have the courage to face difficulties in lives. From this aspect, it is sympathetic. In the old times when people were unhappy, they could consult with the monks. The monks could give advice, either teach Dhama to people who were able to receive it, or just bless them with holy water if they cannot learn Dhama. Now adays it is not certain that people will be happy coming to the temples. They can be asked for donations to build holy objects. It is very difficult to find somewhere that focuses on cultivating Dhama in the mind. If we are wise enough, we should find somewhere that can give us real Dhama. Luang Pu Phaan was really great. Our formal King once asked Luang Pu Phaan which temple did Luang Pu Phaan stay. Luang Pu Phaan replied that he stayed at his mind.

Keep checking on your own mind in order to attain Dhama. When the mind is evil, sinful, unwholesome, know so. When the mind is full of merit and wholesomeness, know so. Just know and keep observing the mind. When defilements arise and we see them, they will disappear without further action. There is no need to get rid of them. This morning 5 former monks came to report on their practices. They had problems about restless mind. What should they do when the mind is restless. The Buddha taught that when the mind is restless, know so. That is what he taught. But we try to think about what we should do. No need to think, just do what the Buddha taught. When the mind is restless, know so. Keep seeing and knowing. When the mind is peaceful, or happy, or unhappy, or greedy, or angrey, just know so.

Keep knowing and seeing, then wisdom wil eventually arise. One will be able to see that all kinds of minds are subjected to change, all kinds of minds are non-self and cannot be controlled. Learn to practice into the mind, keep observing, then we will enter the real temple. Not a temple made of bricks, stones, or wood, those are external temples. Are they useful? Yes, their existence is necessary for monks to dwell. Without temples, good monks will not have a chance to practice Dhama. They would have to stay at home, mingling with family, which is a difficult condition to gain delicate peace. It is still possible in early (enlightened) stages as Sotāpanna (The Stream-enterer) or Sakadāgāmi (The Once-Returner), but Anāgāmi (The Non-returner) has to be free from sensory pleasures. Being at home is being with sensory pleasures, like craving for food. Being secular is not suitable for higher Dhama practice.


Visiting the temple, should earn mindfulness and true wisdom

Temples and monks are useful in terms of succession of Buddhism. But if monks and temples do not encourage Dhama practice, people will not be able to benefit from them as much as they should. Any how, we cannot quite blame others, as their level of faculties is still weak. We now have a chance. We should keep checking on our own mind. At the beginning we might not know how, so we can just observe. Each day our mind is never the same. Some days our mind is light and free, other days our mind is stressed. Each day never the same. If we can see this, we can then look further. Within the course of the day; in the morning, late morning, afternoon, evening, late evening, late at night, our mind is not the same. On a work day we might get up and feel lazy. On a weekend we get up as normal and realize that it is a weekend. We feel lazy also. On a weekday we feel lazy from going to work. On weekend we feel lazy from getting up, still enjoying tossing around in bed. Just read your own mind.

When bad feelings arise, do not try to get rid of it. There is no need to discard it. Good or bad feelings both show the Three Characteristics (impernamence, suffering, non-selfhood) all the same, whether we could see it (the Three Characteristics) or not. When good feelings arise such as we want to make merit and give food to the monks, and we do not know that our mind is wholesome, this is not good practice. It is not me who said this, the Buddha said, “If the mind is wholesome, but one does not know that the mind is wholesome, this is not good practice.” If our mind is unwholesome, like feeling lazy, and we know that the mind is unwholesome, this is good practice. Therefore, good or bad practice depends on whether we know (the state of our mind) or not.

Keep knowing and seeing, and insight wisdom will arise. In the beginning there will be just perception, that is seeing. Seeing movement of the body and the mind. Eventually insight wisdom will arise, as a sequence of knowing, seeing, right view, seeing the Three Characteristics of the body, seeing the Three Characteristics of the mind. Wisdom will arise as we realize that the body and the mind fall under the Three Characteristics. This is insight wisdom, wisdom that arises from seeing the body and the mind as they are. Not from seeing other things, but from seeing one´s body and mind.

If we are really proficient, we will be able see both internal or external objects as effectively. But the masters adviced not to observe external objects because that can lead to high risks. If your mind is weak, you might have desire when you see a beautiful woman. You keep your eyes on her, walk after her, ask for her phone number or line ID or facebook or instagram contact. You become restless. This is not good because you do not see yourself. But if you see a beautiful woman, your mind likes her, and you know so. This is ok. We do not practice just at home or in a cave. We can practice any where. Just be mindful and be aware of your own mind.

Keep observing the mind and we will see. If we have a thermometer measuring temperature outside, we will see constant change all day long. We should have a thermometer to check our own mind. We will see that the mind keeps changing all day. In the morning we feel certain ways, late morning or afternoon or evening or at night the mind keeps changing. Some people do not want to sleep at night. They still want to do or play something until late, and they have difficulty getting up in the morning. We should have discipline. If not, it will be difficult to practice. We need self-discipline. When it is time to get up, we get up. When it is time to rest, we rest. And keep observing our own mind. In the beginning we may see that the mind is different each day. Later on we will see that the mind keeps changing from morning, late morning, afternoon, evening, and at night, never the same.

Once we are more advance in our practice, our Sati (mindfulness) will be quicker. We will be able to see that our mind is not the same in each mental moment. No need to see the change every hour or every three hours. We will see that our mind changes every time there is a sensory contact. The mind changes when the eyes see forms, the ears hear sound, the nose smells ordour, the tongue receives taste, the body is in contact with something, or when thoughts arise in the mind. This means that we are advance in the practice. We are able to read our own mind quickly, as quick as each moment. We do not need to refer to “moment” as defined by those who study Abhidhamma (higher doctrine). For them, the mind arises and falls almost countless of times within a snap of a finger. That is just imagination. Now it is possible to measure how long it takes for the mind to arise for sensory contact. I do not quite remember, but it is less than a second. Not countless of mental moments in a snap. That is more like how they count in India where they prefer large numbers.

The ”moment” I am talking about, is not each mental moment, but “moment” that the eyes see something and the mind changes. When the ears hear something and the mind changes. When there is contact and we can see the change. Those who study Abhidhamma call this “process of cognition”. The eyes see forms, sensory contact occurs through the eyes, then a signal is sent to the mind, then there is interpretation and judging, then there is a decision whether this is to like or not to like, whether to be happy or unhappy, to be wholesome or unwholesome. This is the process. We do not need to know in details. Very few people can see this. If our Sati is not quick enough, we cannot see this. Just learn that when our eyes see, observe the change of our feelings. This is enough to know.

When we hear something, such as when someone called us by our father´s name, we get angry. Then we turn and see that it is our good friend whom we also call by his father´s name. We do not even remember his real name. We used to call each other by our fathers´names. When we see this friend, from being angry we become glad. We are happy to see our friend. Our mind keeps changing in each moment. When the eyes see, the mind changes. When the ears hear, or the nose smells, or the tongue tastes something, or the body comes into contact with something, or the mind comes into contact with thoughts, our mind changes. Just keep seeing these changes. And do not try to control the contacts.

We cannot control what the eyes will see, what the ears will hear, or what the mind will feel. Those are Vipāka (karmic result). We cannot control whether we will see pleasant or unpleasant sights, hear pleasant or unpleasant sounds, or what we will think about. These are not under our command. Once there is a contact, our mind starts working. This is in the present moment. The contact itself, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is a karmic result, is Vipāka, and is not important. When our mind changes after any contact, we must be mindful and aware. This is creating good karma in the present moment. This is the most important part. Present moment is most important. Have you heard; the present moment is the most important? We just hear it from philosophical point of view. The past has gone, the future has not yet arrived, the most important moment is now. But where is this “now”? We do not see it. “Now” is not this year, “past” is not last year, and “future” is not next year. Time span for “now” is not that wide.


The keyword is “Read your own mind”

Check on your own mind. When the eyes see forms, our mind changes, and we see the change as it happens. This is now. “Now” is not how the mind is today compared to the mind yesterday. This is just thinking, not seeing. This is not perception, not inducing insight wisdom. This is just thinking that yesterday and today the mind is not the same so it is impermanent. This is not Vipassana. Vipassana comes from perception, from seeing rupa (forms) and seeing nama (formless phenomena) as they are. What are they? They posses the Three Characteristics. When the eyes see pleasant forms, the mind becomes happy, craving arises in the mind and we are aware of it. This means that we know in the present moment. When the ears hear something, the mind becomes unhappy, anger arises in the mind and we are aware of it. This means that we know when it happens. When sorrow arises, we know so. When anger arises, we know so. This is knowing in the present moment.

Keep checking on our mind. The mind is in constant change. We do not need to keep it still. The mind keeps changing and moving, so let it change and move. Just be mindful and keep observing, eventually wisdom will occur. We will know that all types of minds arise and fall. Whether a mind is happy, unhappy, good, or evil, it will arise and fall all the same. In the beginning we will see each type of mind arises and falls, arises and falls. Upon the process enlightenment, all-round wisdom will occur which enables us to see that all types of minds arise and fall. Not just each type that arises and falls as when we see when practice (greedy mind, angry mind, and deluded mind), but all types of minds arise and fall.

Learn to check on your mind and observe, then we will gain something good and precious that cannot be acquired by asking from other people. We cannot ask for Dhama (understanding) from other people, it is something you earn through your own practice. When I studied Dhama with Luang Pu Dune, the first keyword he gave me was “Read your own mind”. The introduction to his message was, “Practicing Dhama is not difficult. The difficulty lies upon those who do not practice.” That was a message of encouragement. Then he proceeded to say, “You have read many books”, “From now, read your own mind”. The last part was his key message to me.

What I learned from Luang Pu Dune was “Read your own mind.” I then started to read my own mind. How so? Just like what I have told you all. I observed my mind all day long, from waking up until going to sleep. It did not take long until wisdom arised. I saw rise and fall of happy mind, rise and fall of unhappy mind. Rise and fall of whatever type of mind that I came across. There is no basis of selfhood in them. Just practice this way and it will be worthwhile as real buddhists. Today my sermon is quick and short. Put it to practice. Luang Pu Dune gave me even shorter instruction, only one sentence, “Read your own mind.” I already explained in great details how to read your own mind, so put it to practice. If you manage to do this, you will attain the core (of Dhama). Otherwise the mind will get stuck in the cycle (of birth and death) for a long time, suffering over and over again, dying over and over again.

Not everyone will attain enlightenment soon or within this lifetime. It all depends on our accumulated merits and faculties, how much we had accumulated/ practiced. People who have practiced a lot from before, will be able to advance quickly. Those who had not practiced a lot, would need longer to accumulate. It is fair. The law of karma is always fair.


Luangpu Pramote Pamojjo
Wat Suansantidham
24 February 2024 (Morning)