Do not fabricate mind states while practicing insight meditation

Be aware of yourself. Keep being aware of yourself comfortably. Do not fabricate your mind. Most of the time, a practitioner thinks that he or she needs to do something when practicing. When practicing dhamma, there are 2 parts, one that has to do something and one that does not. The part that has to do something is the calmness meditation. You need to do something, which is having a home base for your mind. Some people have many home bases. It is like those who possess many homes, which becomes a burden more than comfort. If you own just one home, then you feel more comfortable and do not have so much burden. Therefore, have a home base and keep adjusting your mind otherwise it will wander away. Have a home base and when the mind wanders, be aware. If you do not assign a home base for the mind, then the mind keeps moving but you are not aware. Yet, if you have a home base for the mind, when it wanders away, then you know.


When you practice calmness meditation, you tend to modify your mind.

When you practice calmness meditation, you tend to modify your mind. When the mind is not upright and stable, it wanders away or restless, you then try to modify it to be upright, not scatter and be peaceful in stillness. Then the mind will become aware and gain strength. This is something we have to do. Sometimes we do have to amend the mind. For example, when lust arises when we try to practice calmness meditation, then we have to correct the mind by considering disgusting objects. Lust arises as the mind feels that the temperament is nice and beautiful. Like when you see a pretty woman, your mind becomes distracted. You then have to amend the mind so it can be calm. Calmness meditation that you can practice to amend the distracted mind is the opposite temperament. When lust arises because the mind sees the nice temperament, then practice to see the opposite perspective.

When you see a pretty woman, lust arises. You just have to consider where it is that you think is pretty? Is it the hair, nails, teeth or skin? A woman without hair would look a bit odd. Imagine someone without eyebrows and eyelashes, it will not look nice. Or someone without nails, that would look quite ugly. Those without teeth would be horrible. And those without skin would be so appalling. Those who are beautiful, they are beautiful because of the hair, the nails, the teeth and the skin. When a person wishes to enter monkhood, he is mostly a young man. In the old times, a guy entered a monkhood at the age of 20. Nowadays, many old men who have no support also wish to become monks.

During the old time, young men entered monkhood when they turned 20. Their master then had to teach them well as at that age, lust is really strong. The master then had to teach 5 contemplations including the hair (on both the head and the skin), nails, teeth and skin. The master is entitled to teach the fellow monk otherwise they will be wrong due to an ecclesiastical offense. Therefore, if a guy has gone through a monkhood but never heard about the 5 contemplations, he is not a real monk. Why is it so important to focus on hair, nails, teeth and skin? Because when a guy is still young, lust is really strong and so the master has to teach his fellows to look at different perspectives. When you look at a person and imagine separating the hair, nails, teeth and skin from the body, you will then see that there is nothing beautiful.

Especially the skin, it is like a big sac. This sac is filled with lots of filthy things inside. And this sac is not completely covered. There are 9 big leak holes. You can look and count these 9 big holes yourself. Plus there are other uncountable tiny leak holes such as those small pores on your skin where sweat keeps pouring out. The master then tells his disciple that a body is like a big leather sac filled with filthy things. There are 9 big leak holes and uncountable tiny holes in it. There is filthy liquid streamed from these holes all the time. Therefore, instead of looking at a woman and seeing her beauty, just look at a different perspective and see whether the skin is really beautiful or not. Then consider that the skin is not nice and clean but has many leak holes with dirty stuff pouring out. Once you consider this, the lust will then extinguish. This is calmness meditation.


You cannot think that calmness meditation is all about Ānāpānasati

You cannot think that calmness meditation is all about Ānāpānasati or mindfulness on breathing, inhaling Bud, exhaling Dho. There are many other calmness meditations like considering the body. Look into your own self and see whether the body is actually beautiful and adorable? Look closely and observe your body, you will see that your body is filled with all filthy and bad stuff from head to toes. All these filthy things are what Thai people call “kie” which means something filthy and bad. They call all the bad stuff from the body “kie” both concrete and abstract. When lust is so powerful, just consider this and lust will then distinguish.

You see, here is what you have to do, which is considering the opposite perspective. If your mind always wanders, then gently carry your mind to continuously focus on one single temperament. This is focusing on the opposite. When the mind wanders to focus on this and that, it keeps catching on different temperaments. Instead of letting the mind wander like that, you have to focus on the opposite, which is gently inducing your mind to focus on just one single temperament that you are comfortable with. Like me, I am skillful in inhaling Bud, exhaling Dho as I have practiced this since I was young. So, I become skillful and whenever I inhale Bud, exhale Dho, my mind keeps focusing on my breathing. I feel content with breathing and so my mind does not wander to find other temperaments. It is peaceful as it is present in one single temperament.

If the mind keeps switching the temperament, then it is distracted. A distracted mind is powerless and possesses no ability to grow wisdom. Therefore, we have to develop the mind to become powerful, upright and aware. When you practice, just be mindful of yourself, not others. When the mind is distracted, I myself am aware of my breathing. Actually, you can choose one temperament as a home base and whenever the mind wanders from the home base, just be aware. Then the mind will become stable and not distracted. Keep being aware and the mind will accumulate strength. The more the mind is stable and upright, the more it gains strength. Unlike the body, to be healthy, you have to keep exercising. Yet, to have a peaceful mind, you have to keep inducing the mind into one single temperament. Then the mind will be happy and not distracted.

What bothers the mind the most is delusion. It is a distraction and the worst of all. When the mind is distracted, it wanders to see, to hear, to smell, to taste the flavors, to touch and to think. Therefore, if we can take care of delusion, other defilements are not as dominant. Lust and anger, both stem from delusion. Therefore, if you can get rid of the source by eliminating delusion, then lust and anger will not exist. You will not have to amend anything. In my case, I did not start with considering disgusting things like corpses to eliminate lust but I focused fast-track on Anapanasati, mindfulness with breathing. Then being aware of the mind that wanders. If the mind does not wander, lust cannot exist and anger also cannot exist. It is the stream of defilement. We can get rid of its origin, which is delusion. Those who cannot do this will then try to eliminate greed and lust.

Lord Buddha has taught as also appeared in the Tripitaka, lusts consist of matter, sound, scent, taste and touch. Then he continued to demonstrate that the matter that can mostly influence men are women while the matter that can mostly influence women are men. During that time there were not so many third genders so he only focused on just men and women. What kind of sound can attract men the most? It’s a woman’s voice. Likewise, out of all sound, a man’s voice can attract women the most. Therefore, men can be proud of their husky throaty voice, which attracts women. Scent of a woman can attract men, the same way that a man’s scent can attract women. A man’s touch can allure a woman just as a woman’s touch can allure a man. These factors magnetize us to like and to love.

Our desires are not just the love of men and women. We expand our greed to other things like greed in wealth, in the taste of food. We have to check out this shop, to dine in that restaurant and so on. Before going to eat out, we have to read the reviews. That is not wise at all. Why bother reading the reviews whether this place is tasty or not when actually there is no such thing as tasty. Tasty is not an ultimate truth. It has no phenomena. It only depends whether you like it or not. Naturally, the taste of food that we are fond of is the taste we remember from childhood, like our mom’s cooking. In the old days, mother was the one who cooked and no recipe can match mother’s cooking. That’s because we are used to that taste. Whether it is a delicious taste in the view of others, it is not reliable as there is no phenomena to support it.

Keep observing yourself when you are attracted to something. When a man is attracted to a woman but he wants to be peaceful and not keep thinking about her. Then scan that woman and consider why she is so attractive? Because the matter is pretty. But is it really that pretty? It is because of the hair, nail, teeth and skin. Are all these permanent? Not really. Soon the hair will turn gray and fall out. The nail as well, if it is not trimmed, it would be long and dirty like those of the ogress. The woman is attractive because she grooms herself from head to toes. If you keep considering, you will see whether it is a real beauty. Is the hair really beautiful and clean?

I once heard a master’s teaching. He did not teach me in person. He also did not insult women. You have to understand it was his way of teaching the fellow monks. He said “A woman’s hair is like a dog’s fur. When not showering or shampooing, it is smelly and not nice. Nothing is magical. Like the skin that you think is beautiful, when waking up and unwashed, it is oily and shiny. Nothing is really beautiful.” This was his way of teaching the young monks, not insulting women. As men are even more dirty than women. It was just his method to teach the monk to consider. Those who are lustful can eliminate lust. If you are greedy and want to possess this and that be it fame or power, you just have to consider and see those famous people. How many of them are famous sustainably? Only Lord Buddha and his disciples are remembered through these thousands of years. All others are forgotten.

Do you know the name of your grandfather’s father? Most of you do not know. Some of you don’t even know the real name of your grandfather. Actually, fame is just temporary. Keep seeing and considering that fame is just a thing. When you possess so much wealth, what do you need so much wealth for? You can spend a part of it. You can afford a thousand kilos of rice but you can consume no more than 2 plates at a time. Why are you so naive? Aren’t you tired of accumulating wealth that will only be passed on to others or to the world?


The best contemplation to batter with those strong defilements would be the Contemplation of Death

Keep seeing and knowing. Yet, if your mind still surrenders itself to lust, anger or other defilements, then perhaps the best contemplation to batter with those strong defilements would be the Contemplation of Death. When a man is crazy about this woman and then moves on to the next, it is because he forgets about self and about death. Some men, even at the age of 60-70, still crave for young women. That’s because he forgets how old he is. If you consider and look into yourself, you will know that all the things that we possess, all that we love and care for would be meaningless once we pass away. Even if you are born a millionaire in this life, we might not be one in the next. You will just look at the wealth that now belongs to others like your descendants.

Luangpu Tes once told me “If you cannot succeed in practicing calmness meditation with any contemplations, choose the Contemplation of Death.” As death is the end of everything. When you pass away, everything is meaningless. When you hate someone, when death separates you, you then forget everything and all become meaningless. Why bother hating each other? When you hate someone, the mind is filled with anger. Whenever you think about that person, anger arises. It is your own mind that is unhappy. This is the rule of dhamma. Why bother arguing and fighting with each other if you know that soon you will just pass away.

If you read the chronicles or the history of the Ayutthaya period, you will learn about the wealth usurpation. Siblings killed each other. Father killed his own son. People killed each other. Today, none of them exist. It is so nonsense and tiring. People keep fighting with each other and in the end there is nothing left. If you keep considering the Contemplation of Death, then the mind will understand that the world is just that. Then your mind will be peaceful and not struggling with greed and anger.
Therefore, the Contemplation of Death is the final blow. It is the finest method to battle with delilements that cannot be competed with other contemplation. This is the tactic that the masters have taught us. If the mind is still not surrendered, then keep training yourself like Venerable Luangpu Mun. He was a patriarch not only because he was very good at insight meditation but because he was great at teaching. Many of his disciples became great. Luangpu Mun sent his disciples who were afraid of ghosts to practice in the cemetery. Those who were afraid need to be castigated. Those who were afraid of death were sent to practice in the cave where there were tigers. This way, those with big egos, thinking they were great, when they met with the tiger, the elephant and the ghost, all became humble as they felt death could happen any minute.

This is the contemplation that reminds us that we never know when we will pass away. We could have been bitten by a tiger in the blink of an eye. When the tiger bites, it bites your neck in one shot. It is very good at that. Therefore, use calmness meditation to suppress your mind. There actually are countless methods for mental exercises. The 40 meditation subjects are just some examples. The tactics that the master uses for each individual are different. It is quite personalized. There is an adversary dhamma to fight with each defilement to calm the mind. Therefore, there are many contemplations to use when practicing calmness meditation until the mind becomes humble, docile and possesses strength to practice.


To embrace your mind to gain insight knowledge

The next task is to embrace your mind to gain insight knowledge so that you can practice to grow wisdom. As you have seen the truth, when the mind is upright and stable, you just have to embrace your mind to feel the body and the mind. No need to do anything further. First you need to embrace your mind but later on, you do not need to. As it is the nature of the mindfulness that it has to grab the temperaments all the time. Sometimes it grabs the things that the mind happens to know or the things that are wholesome. Then you become mindful but it is the kind of mindfulness that involves the world.

However, if you practice foundations of mindfulness, then you are being mindful of the body and the mind. However, you cannot choose whether the mindfulness that arises will be the mindfulness of the body or the mind. At that point, you no longer need to do anything. The mind is upright and neutral. When you are mindful of the body, you will see the Three Characteristics of the body. When you are mindful of the mind, you will see the Three Characteristics of the mind. No need to do anything at this point. But before you reach the point, when the mind is upright, you have to embrace your mind to gain insight knowledge. For instance, initially, you may see the body and be mindful of the body. The purpose is not to be peaceful like when you practice calmness meditation, in which you see the body so that your mind will become peaceful. By being aware of your breath, seeing the rising and falling of your abdomen and walking meditation to create peace in the mind, those are calmness meditations.

Nevertheless, in the process of insight meditation, when the mind is either peaceful or upright with strength, if the mind does not develop wisdom, you have to embrace your mind. Here there is an action of embracing the mind to gain insight knowledge. For example, embrace the mind to be aware of the body and see whether the body is permanent or not? See if the body is happy or unhappy? See whether this body is controllable or not? Teach yourself and guide it to see. If the mind refuses to see, just try to lead it. It may concentrate on one contemplation as it is used to. When being aware of the body, it concentrates on the body. As the master taught us to be aware of the body, just be aware that the body is not permanent. It struggles with suffering all the time. It is not self, not ours.

How do you see that the body is not ours? Is the hair ours? Does it announce that it is ours? Be it long or short or it grows more, we cannot control it, can we? The hair that once was bushy but now it is thinner, can you control it? No you can’t. It was once black but now it turns gray. Can you control it? No you can’t. Just keep seeing and leading your mind to see. This is just the starting point. Just an activator for the mind to start practicing insight meditation. It is not yet an insightful knowledge but an activator for the mind to grow wisdom. The mind that is used to calmness meditation has to be activated so that it will learn to grow wisdom and embrace the mind to gain insight knowledge.

In my case, Lungpu Dune taught me to see my mind. I then follow his teaching. At first, I could not comprehend as there were so many things to see. Then I picked only the ones that arise often. In my case, anger arises often so I just see these 2 things. The mind now is filled with anger, the mind now is not filled with anger. I see my mind with an intention to focus on just the anger. Then later on the mind becomes skillful. When lust arises, it is aware. When delusion arises, it is aware. When happiness or suffering arises, it is aware. Those who are used to being aware of the body, just keep being aware of the body. At first, you have to intend to be aware but later on when the consciousness is stronger, you do not need to intend to be aware, it just happens naturally. From then on, the mind will be aware automatically. At the beginning, you may only be aware of one part of the body but letter on, no matter which part of the body, the mind is aware.

When you first practice being aware of the mind and seeing the phenomena that happens in the mind such as anger. Then later the mind is aware of everything that happens in the mind. I have experienced that since Luangpu Dune was still alive. I kept being aware. When anger arose, I was aware. When there was no anger in the mind, I was aware. Then later on, the mind could see more fine defilements. When lust arose in my mind, I was aware. When lust extinguished, I was aware. When delusion arose, I was aware. When the mind was aware, I could see. When the mind was distracted, I was aware. When the mind was peaceful, I was aware. When the mind was depressed or courageous, I was aware. The mind was aware of many things very thoroughly. Even the body, I also tried being aware of it. I went to visit Luangpor Tien and watch him while he was teaching. At that time I was able to practice but I wanted to learn how the masters in each institute taught. I witnessed Luangpor Tien teach his fellows who sat in a row to move their hands in different rhythms while he himself sat in the narrow wooden pavilion. Luangpor Tien went on to speak while he moved his hands in rhythm.

I did not join in the practice. I just went there to witness the teaching. Luangpor was good. He moved his hands in rhythm while teaching. He was being mindful. This means that his method was right. I then detached myself to sit under the tree in Sanam Nai Temple and started moving my hands in rhythm the way I saw Luangpor Tien teach and then I left. The way of moving my hands in 14 rhythms was pretty annoying for me as I tend to have a hateful temperament. The 14 rhythms were quite annoying to me so I had to apply by moving my hands in 2 steps, just open and be aware, close and be aware. I kept opening and closing until I became tired so I just moved and felt the move. Train the mind to be aware of the body.

One day I spotted a friend walking on the other side of the road. This friend of mine was a very dear friend who was very close to me since we were young. Then we went on to study in different universities. I had not met him for so long. When I spotted the guy, I was so glad that I wanted to cross the street to see him. I looked left and was unaware, then looked right and was still unaware. But when I started to walk, I was conscious and became mindful. When my body moved, I was aware without having an intention to. Nowadays, I am aware without having an intention to. I move and am aware, be it left or right, I am aware as the mind becomes automatically conscious.


Keep seeing and knowing, soon you will know more

So, initially you move and be aware just to train yourself to realize the phenomena or in other words, to be mindful. Keep being mindful. Keep being aware when your body moves and soon when your body moves, you will automatically be conscious. When I practiced by moving my hands, my consciousness rose from moving my feet. It didn’t happen at the same spot. But from then on, whenever I move, be it in a sleeping position, turning left or right, I am aware. This applies to our minds as well. From a small point such as being aware of my anger, as anger arises often in my case. I see anger arising and not arising in my mind. The mind is with or without anger.

Next you can see more thoroughly. The mind is aware when it feels irritated or when it does not. Before anger arises, there is a tiny anger arising first, then it grows and becomes a big one. The tiny anger is fed with an essential food, which is a thought full of hatred or malevolent thought. This food is fed to grow the anger. However, if lust is fed with the thought of sensual pleasures, then lust will grow bigger. You have to keep observing from a tiny point. Then when you become mindful, like when it is mindful of the movement of the body and whenever the body moves, consciousness arises automatically.

When you are mindful of what happens that affects the mind, you will then become skillful and whatever happens, you will automatically be mindful. However, do not forget you have to keep practicing in a format so that the mind will become upright. When the mind is upright and stable, do not just let it be but embrace your mind to gain an insightful knowledge. Some people have been practicing since their past lives. When their mind becomes upright and stable, they become mindful of the phenomena that arises in their body and mind automatically. They do not need any support. However, those who have never practiced may need help. You have to help the mind consider both the body and the mind. I have taught you how to be aware of the body already. Then you have to be aware of the mind. When anger arises in the mind, it happens by itself. We did not intend for it to happen. But once we are aware, it extinguishes by itself. We cannot command it to extinguish.

I started to practice wisdom development by seeing the non-self of the phenomena. Next I then see that happiness, suffering, good and bad things are all non-self and cannot be controlled. Each has a cause. Like lust has a cause, which is the mind is affected by a satisfying emotion without being mindful. Then lust arises and it grows bigger if we feed it with sensual thought. I keep teaching the monks here as they are still young and lust could be intense and cause them to suffer. I teach them to not be afraid of lust but do not follow what it teaches you to imagine. If you do not follow it, then lust will just shrivel like an unfed dog. Then it will just lose its power.

Therefore, all the phenomena stem from a cause. We do not need to know each of them. Initially we just need to know one pair and soon we will know them all. There are so many abstract phenomena while there are 28 concrete phenomena. You do not need to learn about all of them. Just be aware of what you can. There are a great number of abstract phenomena. There is 1 mind and 52 mental activities. These 52 mental activities, when combined with the mind, can incur hundreds of exquisite minds. You do not have to worry about this. You do not possess some of the mind like a meditative mind as you do not practice one-pointed meditation so you can disregard it. Just see what is available. The mental activities that we possess are the ones in the world of sensual pleasures. You just have to keep seeing and knowing. Soon you will know more. From small beginnings come great things.

Like evilness, it emerges from something small. Yet, if you are not careful, then it can expand rapidly like fire that spreads so big it could burn down the whole city. Remember, things that happen can originate from a very small point. Defilements can also originate from small ones. If you can be conscious quickly, the small defilement will extinguish and will not grow into a big one. On the other hand, if you cannot be conscious fast enough, then the defilement can grow bigger. Even if you become mindful when the defilement grows big, it will still extinguish but there might have been some damage. Evil thoughts, mean words and bad conducts will entitle you retributions. Like when you speak rudely, your words disgust people so they may hate you. If you do something bad, the society then condemns you. It will be unwholesome.

By nature, humans are social animals. Deep down, everyone wants to be accepted by society. That’s very common. It happens to all. We are not born to be alone. Naturally, humans are social animals, they group together. As a result everyone wants to be accepted. What is it in the acceptance of society? It reminds you of your identity. For example, if you belong in the community where there is this one person who is hated by everyone. In this case, no need to scold this person. No need to punish him or her. When this person shows up, just act as if he or she does not exist. This way, that person will not be able to stick around. Because that person is not accepted or reminded that he or she exists. This is a very strong punishment. It is stronger than being scolded.

If you are being scolded, it still means that you exist. You are ready to scold back. But in this case, people ignore you. They pretend not to see you. This is social sanction. A person being punished by society. For that reason, everyone wants to have an identity. It is a craving. Just be aware and do not fool yourself. Keep practicing until one day you will know that there is no you. Even yourself does not exist. It doesn’t matter how others look at you. It is their problem. You are not in trouble. Even when people admire you, are you bothered? Your body is not bothered. It is just the mind that jumps out to take the temperament. When people yell at you, your mind leaps out to grab the temperament. Then it becomes upset. No matter what kind of temperament, once the mind leaps out to grab it, it is in trouble no matter whether it grabs good or bad temperament. So, keep learning about yourself and soon you will develop wisdom. If you keep clinging, you will always suffer. Whenever you crave or you cling, you will suffer. Whenever you let go of craving or clinging, then you will no longer suffer. Your mind will become wiser.

Therefore, keep practicing yourself. When you practice at the wipatsanā or insight level, there is no need to amend anything. Just keep knowing everything the way it is. There is also an exception. In the beginning, you may need to help correct the mind that is used to the emptiness or mental detachment. You have to be aware of the body and be aware of the mind while also practicing calmness meditation as well. Most of the temperaments that are used in practicing calmness meditation is the opposite temperament to the major defilement. For example, if anger arises often in your case, then cultivate kindness to clear the mind. Then the mind will become peaceful. If lust arises, then consider disgusting things, then lust will extinguish and the mind will become calm.

When the mind wanders to find a delightful temperament, you then have to focus on one temperament that makes you happy. The mind is content in that single temperament. It will not crave for another temperament and will then be peaceful. There is an amendment of your temper and your mind. However, in the stage of insight meditation, there is no need to adjust anything. Keep being aware of the body and mind the way it is. Unless your mind cannot be aware by itself, then you have to help induce the mind a little.


Luangpu Pramote Pamojjo
Wat Suansantidham
26 August 2023