Methods to cultivate mindfulness in daily life

Merely listening is not enough; you must truly practice. Doing and stopping intermittently won’t suffice; it must be consistent. Like rowing a boat against the current, if you stop rowing, the boat will drift backward. Those who attend a meditation retreat consistently for a certain period are not like the general populace. Minds of general people are powerless; they wander and scatter. Those attending the meditation retreat look good; good. They don’t look annoying. Let alone lay students; even newly ordained monks residing in the Suan Santidham temple, when sitting for the morning meal, differ. The senior monks and the newly ordained monks are not the same. The newly ordained ones are still like lay students. They just wear saffron robes, but their minds are not used to it—they don’t have Samaṇasaññā –– Perceptions of a recluse. They don’t yet feel like monks. Their demeanor is a bit fidgety, and when it’s time to bring the food trays, at this monastery, the monks pass on the food trays, by pushing and sliding them. The trays haven’t arrived, but their minds jump to other trays already.

Training must be undertaken for a certain period—ideally 2-3 months of dedicated practice. Once you embark on such practice, each person will admit that it’s not the same as when they were lay students. During their lay-student days, they would say, ‘Ah, I am diligent in meditation, why isn’t it the same?’ The teachings from Luangpor are the same for both monks and lay students. However, the understanding and taste of Dhamma perceived are not the same. It’s like people eating the same food, but their digestive systems differ—one may have a weak stomach, poor digestion, while another has a robust stomach, excellent digestion, and thus, they absorb nutrients better. I mention this to let us know that even if we claim we practice well, it’s good at a certain level—better than for those who don’t meditate.


Each person’s middle way is unique

But if you truly want genuine results in this life, the practice must be intense. Intensity doesn’t mean sitting in meditation for a long time or walking day and night. If you sit in meditation and your mind wanders or complains about how suffering it is, that signifies self-mortification. Let’s consider two scenarios: one person walks for six hours, and another person walks for just half an hour. The person who walks for six hours does so with mindfulness, with a mind firmly rooted in awareness, capable of distinguishing aggregates. They observe the body moving, with the mind as the observer. They are walking the middle way. On the other hand, the person walking for half an hour feels stressed and doesn’t want to continue. Experiencing stress and feeling compelled to walk that half hour is a form of self-mortification. It’s tense and not in the middle way.

So, walking the middle way doesn’t mean practicing in any specific posture or for a certain duration. It’s about practicing with self-awareness—that’s the essence of the middle way. If the practice becomes a form of suppression, forcing the body, forcing the mind, it might look good externally, but internally, it’s not beneficial. It turns into a form of self-mortification, causing oneself difficulty. On the other hand, some people walk in meditation with a beautiful stride, perfect rhythm—externally stunning. However, their minds are not fully present with the body and/or mind. They walk physically, but mentally, they are elsewhere. Yet, due to consistent practice, they’ve mastered the art of walking. They move gracefully and beautifully. It’s a form of sensual indulgence, a bit lax. Even though they walk day and night, if their minds wander away, that’s considered lax. If one walks only a short distance but with tension and stress, that’s considered too tense.

Meditation teachers liken this to eating or sleeping habits. Some monks sleep very little; some may sleep once in three days, while others sleep only a few hours each day, and still, others may sleep for 6 hours. Looking externally, they may suggest that those who sleep less are better than those who sleep more, believing that sleeping too much is not good and signifies laziness. In reality, each person’s middle way is unique; it’s a personal matter. Some people have good awareness when they sleep less. If they sleep too much, they feel sluggish. Therefore, those who sleep less are actually walking the middle way—such a practice suits them. On the other hand, if another person’s body naturally requires 6 hours of sleep, but they force themselves to sleep less, that is self-mortification.

Or it’s the same for eating. Some people fast for several days; some abstain for over 40 days and manage it well. While fasting, their minds become sharp and alert; their awareness is excellent. That is not a form of tormenting oneself; it’s not self-mortification. On the other hand, another person sees someone else fasting and decides to try it. However, while fasting, they become extremely stressed—experiencing stomach rumbling, stomachaches, headaches, and feeling emotionally low. Even fasting for just one day, if it leads to such distress, becomes a form of self-mortification.

Luangpor once met another venerable teacher who is still alive today, at the age of over 90. He is a respected senior teacher. He shared that he is skilled in fasting—fasting helps him meditate well. However, this teacher cannot abstain from sleeping. If he tries to go without sleep for just one day, he becomes dizzy and needs to compensate by sleeping for three days. He also spoke about another venerable teacher, Luangpu Fan. Luangpu Fan, who has now passed away, had to eat to be able to meditate well. It wasn’t an issue for him to abstain from sleep, but he couldn’t abstain from eating. But the former teacher could abstain from eating, but not from sleeping.

The bodies of each person are not the same. Look at ourselves, but don’t succumb to the defilements. Gradually investigate which practices support the cultivation of good mindfulness and the firm establishment of our awareness in the body and mind. If we investigate and discover, we should practice accordingly and extensively. In the aspect where we can observe ourselves and know what we should do, then firmly set our hearts and minds to do it without negligence—this is called “Sampajañña” (clear comprehension).


Sampajañña, knowing what is suitable for us

Have you ever heard the term “Sampajañña” (clear comprehension)? Mindfulness and clear comprehension are essential virtues. If there is mindfulness but no clear comprehension, one doesn’t know what is suitable for oneself—it doesn’t work. Therefore, we must observe ourselves, especially in the matter of meditation. Some people wish to meditate, and when they see others doing it, they join in—breathing in and reciting “Bud,” breathing out and reciting “Dho,” following whatever they see. However, the mind can’t attain Samādhi; it doesn’t favor this method but prefers another. Alternatively, for some, the body is not suited for a certain form of meditation, but even if they see others doing well, when they try, it doesn’t yield the desired results for them.

Take Ajahn Ah as an example. Ajahn Ah, when giving a Dhamma talk, likes to share stories about Luangpor. Today, Luangpor is going to settle a score with him. Ajahn Ah is Luangpor’s long-time, close disciple, and he spends many hours each day in Luangpor’s hut. So, he knows that Luangpor practices Ānāpānasati—breathing in and reciting “Bud,” breathing out and reciting “Dho.” However, Ajahn Ah cannot practice Ānāpānasati because he has a stuffy nose; he can’t breathe well. So Ajahn Ah tried Luangpor’s method, but it didn’t work due to his difficulty in breathing. Therefore, Ajahn Ah adopted a different approach. He moves and feels, walks around and feels, sweeps the temple and feels, eats and feels, moves and feels. This signifies that he has clear comprehension, possessing the wisdom to understand which practice suits him and not neglecting it. Everyone is different.

Luangpor has been practicing Ānāpānasati since childhood. One day, I visited a relative at Siriraj Hospital. At that time, there were many patients, and I saw a monk lying on a wheeled stretcher in a corridor since there was no available room. He was on the stretcher, hooked up to IV drips in the corridor. He looked radiant. Luangpor didn’t notice at first when I walked by. But after passing, I turned around and realized how luminous he was. So, I approached him and started a conversation. I asked, “How do you meditate, Venerable?” The monk replied, “I recite ‘Bud-Dho.’ How about you?” Luangpor then responded, “I breathe in and recite ‘Bud,’ breathe out and recite ‘Dho.'” Then he asked, “Have you ever thought about what you would do if one day you couldn’t breathe? How would you practice meditation?”

He asked a question for me to ponder because, at that time, I was exclusively practicing Ānāpānasati. When practicing mindfulness of breathing, I felt comfortable, calm, and serene. When he asked what would happen if one day I were hooked up to a breathing tube and couldn’t naturally breathe, and how I would meditate, I started exploring various meditation methods. However, before reaching this point, we must first be proficient in practicing a single meditation method.

If we practice mindfulness of breathing as Luangpor does, and our minds enter deep Samādhi, when we switch to doing something else, the mind would also enter deep Samādhi. Therefore, initially, let’s focus on one meditation method. Once we become proficient and skillful in that, then we can experiment with other methods. However, if we change daily, doing one thing today and another tomorrow, you won’t achieve any result in this lifetime. In meditation, we observe ourselves, choose what suits us, and stick with it. Then, we don’t stop; we practice consistently as much as we can.

Luangpor went to pay respects to a venerable teacher, and when the teacher’s assistant saw Luangpor, he was glad. He would quickly gesture for Luangpor to sit and wait. Then, he would let other lay people pay respects to the teacher and leave. As soon as all other lay people left, the assistant monk would close all the doors: the room door, the hall door, and the pavilion gate. Luangpor then would report on my meditation practice homework; the teacher would sit and listen. Afterward, everyone went their separate ways. In the evening, Luangpor encountered the teacher’s assistant walking outside the pavilion. The assistant monk, remembering that I used to pay respects to the teacher once a year, asked how I meditated that the result I achieved in one year monks couldn’t achieve in ten or twenty years. Luangpor responded, ‘I practice all the time, from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep, except during work that requires thinking.’

We should practice the way Luangpor practices. In meditation, we don’t choose whether to practice for one hour or two hours on a particular day. If we still think that practice means doing one or two hours a day, or even six hours a day, we are still very heedless—this is considered too lax. How can we practice throughout the day, except during work that requires thinking? During work that requires thinking, mindfulness is devoted to the task, Samādhi is focused on the work, and wisdom contemplates work-related matters. At that moment, we are not aware of the body, nor are we aware of the mind. Therefore, at that time, we cannot cultivate meditation. However, if we have trained ourselves to develop mindfulness in our daily lives, then we can practice throughout the day. If we are adept only at formal meditation in the meditation room but cannot practice in our daily lives, we are still far from success.


Too much emphasis on Samatha is a lengthy path, excessive reflecting leads to restlessness

Luangpu Mun taught. Luangpu Mun was before my time. Luangpu Mun passed away in 1949, and Luangpor was born in 1952, so I was born after his time. However, I went to study with many disciples of Luangpu Mun, including Luangpu Suwat. Luangpu Suwat once shared what Luangpu Mun taught him, “Too much emphasis on Samatha is a lengthy path, excessive reflecting leads to restlessness. The essence of practice is to have mindfulness in daily life.” This is what he taught.

So, if we meditate for 10 hours, and our minds are just still and empty, he said that’s a slow path. How slow is slow? If we delve into a subtle state, to the level of non-form Jhāna, we will be reborn as formless Brahma gods. However, without form, it’s difficult for them to practice. Formless Brahma gods live for more than ten thousand eons, and during such a time, many Buddhas will have attained enlightenment and passed away. Therefore, placing too much emphasis on Samatha is a lengthy path, especially reaching the level of the formless Brahma realms; it’s quite challenging to develop.

And then he said that thinking and reflecting extensively can lead to restlessness. Some people don’t practice Samādhi at all; they just think and reflect. They think about the body, hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, and bones, seeing them as unattractive, impure, impermanent, not us. And then they delight in thinking. As we think and reflect, at some point, the mind becomes joyful and peaceful. Has anyone ever done this? We contemplate some Dhamma point, and once we understand that Dhamma point, the mind attains deep Samādhi. The mind becomes happy. Therefore, merely thinking and reflecting is still a form of Samatha; it’s not yet Vipassanā. Because as long as there is thinking, it’s not Vipassanā.

Vipassanā requires seeing—seeing what? Seeing the Three Characteristics of the body, seeing the Three Characteristics of the mind. Only then can it be considered Vipassanā. If you’re still thinking, it’s not. Therefore, if you think a lot, think until the energy of the mind is exhausted, it will start to become restless. How does it become restless? Restless in Dhamma. Have you ever experienced it? Some people, as soon as they see someone, will speak solely about Dhamma. When they start speaking about Dhamma, they can’t control themselves—they go on and on and on. Luangpor once met a senior monk. Luangpor didn’t know him, but only knew the name. When I went to pay respects, as soon as Luangpor paid respects, he started speaking about Dhamma. He spoke, and it got faster and faster. His disciples came out and waited behind. As he kept speaking, suddenly, he was shocked and fell on his back. He couldn’t control himself. When pouring out Dhamma, the mind dashed out uncontrollably.

I once visited a temple to pay respects to the remains of an esteemed elder monk. There was another monk stationed at the hall where the remains were placed, and his presence deterred people from entering the temple; they were afraid. When encountering anyone, he seemed oblivious to their purposes. He spoke incessantly about Dhamma without any self-awareness. He was restless in the Dhamma. Therefore, to contemplate the Dhamma deeply, one must have his or her own brake, must know how to control his or her mind. Otherwise, speaking about the Dhamma without proper self-control is like that of a mad person. It is a form of Vipassanupakkilesa (defilement of insight).

Therefore, the teacher advised that placing too much emphasis on Samatha—making the mind empty—is a lengthy path, and excessive reflection leads to restlessness. If you think and contemplate in moderation, the mind can achieve deep concentration and remain calm. However, if you excessively engage in thought and contemplation, restlessness arises. Balanced reflection is beneficial; it’s good, it’s not bad. Practicing Samatha is beneficial, but excessive Samatha is a slow path. He emphasized that the key lies in cultivating mindfulness in everyday life. Many people claim they don’t practice sitting or walking meditation, but they cultivate mindfulness in their daily lives all the time. However, looking at them, I can tell that they are not truly cultivating mindfulness in daily life; instead, they are restless without being aware.”


From formal meditation practice to mindfulness in daily life

How do we cultivate mindfulness in our daily lives? We have to practice formal meditation well. During formal meditation, we minimize the use of our senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. In this practice, we abstain from form (visual stimuli). We don’t actively look at anything. Regarding sound, we don’t intentionally listen to anything. For odor, we don’t intentionally smell anything. With our mouth and tongue, we don’t eat or taste anything. Only two senses remain: the body and the mind. Whether sitting in meditation or walking, we have both the body and the mind. Cultivate these two aspects. Let the body walk while the mind observes. When the body sits, let the mind observe. When the body breathes, let the mind observe. Practice in this way.

As we reduce the use of our senses, we begin to observe. Where do we observe? If we want to cultivate tranquility, we direct our attention to the meditation object. For Luangpor, when aiming for inner calmness, the focus is on the known aspect – the breath. Place attention on the breath, making it the main focus. The mind will then become calm. Another type of meditation is not concentrating on the meditation object but directing attention to the mind. When we engage in our formal meditation, we do both of these.

On days when restlessness is abundant, we allow the mind to rest by dwelling on a single object. The mind then attains tranquility, and in that tranquility, it gains strength. On days when we engage in formal meditation and our minds have gained momentum, let’s not remain tranquil for no purpose, as it’s a waste of time. Instead, let’s engage in another form of meditation, using the mind as the primary focus. If we desire tranquility, we can use a meditation object as the main focus. For instance, staying with the reciting of “Bud-Dho”—thinking of nothing else, continuously remaining solely with the “Bud-Dho” reciting—brings tranquility to the mind. If we want the mind to be firmly established in awareness. While reciting “Bud-Dho,” if the mind attaches to the “Bud-Dho” reciting without wandering elsewhere, that is when the mind continuously remains tranquil with a single meditation object. This is the practice principle of calmness Samādhi (Samatha).

If we change our main focus and don’t concentrate on the meditation object but instead observe the mind. However, don’t overly focus on the mind, just be aware of it. For instance, when we breathe in and recite ‘Bud,’ breathe out and recite ‘Dho’, if our mind escapes into thoughts, recognize promptly that the mind has wandered into thinking. We don’t concern ourselves with having to remain tranquil on a single object. Instead, we observe our mind. While breathing, if the mind wanders into thoughts, recognize that it has wandered into thinking. If the mind slips and focuses on a single object, recognize that it has slipped and become focused. Through practicing like this consistently, we will become aware of our own mind in real-time. We will know exactly where our mind has wandered off to. Whether it’s wandering into thoughts or focusing, whether it’s going to the past or the future, we know it all. It’s in this awareness of the mind that lies the crucial point, as it determines whether we can practice in our daily life or not.

Practicing in daily life isn’t just about walking along the road and reciting “lifting”, “moving”; a car might run over you. It’s not like that. Practicing mindfulness in daily life means using your eyes to see, ears to listen, nose to smell, tongue to taste, body to feel, and the mind to think. Every time there’s contact with the senses—eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or the mind—reactions occur in the mind. The mind ripples, experiencing joy, suffering, wholesomeness, or unwholesomeness. It may wander and become lost in thoughts, lost in seeing, or lost in listening—that is, the mind is in operation.

What happens to the mind after the contact with an object can be broadly categorized into two main groups. One is related to feelings, involving feelings such as when we see a beautiful woman, and lust arises in our mind. When we see a beautiful flower, we feel happiness, or in the cool breeze, we experience joy. The happiness that arises in the mind, we are conscious of it. We are aware of what is happening in our minds. The feeling of happiness arises, and we are aware of it. When the feeling of suffering arises, we are conscious of it. When wholesome qualities arise, we are conscious of it. When unwholesome qualities arise, we are conscious of it. This is, in one aspect, knowing feelings.

The other aspect is knowing the behavior of the mind. Our minds are never still; they wander towards the eyes, towards the ears, towards the nose, towards the tongue, towards the body, towards the mind. The Buddha taught that the mind arises and ceases very quickly. One mind arises and ceases, one after another, continuously, day and night. The mind travels swiftly; the travel spots of the mind are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Traveling towards the eyes means seeing forms; traveling towards the ears means listening to sounds; traveling towards the nose means smelling odors; traveling towards the tongue means tasting flavors; traveling towards the body means experiencing sensations; and traveling towards the mind means knowing various mental phenomena, such as stories or thoughts. The mind is skilled at traveling.

If we practice, not only will we be aware of whether there is happiness or suffering, goodness or badness at this moment, but we will also observe the behavior of the mind. We can observe the feelings arising in the mind or the behavior of the mind that arises and ceases in all six sense bases. This is how we observe the mind.

We need to do formal meditation practice. We meditate and stay aware of our mind. For instance, if we’ve been meditating in sitting position for a long while and we feel that it’s hot–the room is hot, and we start sweating–our mind becomes irritated, be aware of it. Irritation has arisen, be aware. In the midst of heat, there’s a cool breeze entering, bringing comfort. We feel happy — we then be aware that the mind is happy. Practice earnestly. Or, when we’re meditating and sitting like this, and the mind refuses to settle, we become annoyed. We then be aware that the mind is annoyed. We continue to meditate, and the mind gradually settles and becomes calm, content. We then be aware that the mind is content. Also, be aware that we like it when the mind settles. And be aware that we like it when the mind is happy.

In formal practice, we practice to be aware of the mind. It means being aware of the feelings that arise in the mind and being aware of the behavior of the mind. For example, while sitting, as we inhale and recite “Bud” and exhale and recite “Dho,” the mind may wander, thinking about other things. The mind may get lost internally, such as lost in thoughts. Practice to be aware of the behavior of the mind. While doing our formal practice, we practice to be aware of our own mind. Consequently, the mind becomes rooted in awareness, becoming the observer. When the mind becomes the observer, we can see clearly: happiness, suffering, wholesomeness, unwholesomeness—these are things to be known and seen, not the mind itself. The minds, which arise and cease at the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind, are impermanent and not under our control.


To cultivate mindfulness in daily life, we must remain aware of our own mind

Once we practice proficiently in the formal meditation style, we can face the outside world. It’s comparable to boxing training; if we have already trained well, it’s time to step into the ring. If we skillfully train but never engage in a real fight, we won’t achieve championship status. Similarly, if we only practice well in our meditation room but fail to apply it in real life, we won’t attain the desired result. We won’t attain any liberation.

Therefore, we must first train effectively in our meditation room. Train two things—do you recall? On days when the mind is restless, allow it to stay continuously with the meditation object that brings happiness. Use this object as the main focus, so the mind can get some rest and gain strength. When the mind is energetic, then use the mind as the main focus: meditate, and if our minds become happy, suffering, good, or evil, be aware. If the mind engages in thinking, pondering, concocting, or fabricating, be aware.

Once we become skilled in reading our own minds, when we live in the real world, we don’t just use the senses of the body and mind, but we use all six senses. When living in the real world, we use our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind – we use them all. Yet, we don’t intend to use any particular one. The mind chooses on its own. Sometimes it looks, sometimes it listens, sometimes it smells, sometimes it tastes, sometimes it touches, and sometimes it thinks. The mind operates on its own. We just keep staying aware. When the eyes contact forms and changes arise in the mind, be aware. When the ears hear sounds and changes arise in the mind, be aware. When the nose smells odors, the tongue tastes flavors, the body feels sensations, and changes arise in the mind, be aware. The mind contacts thoughts and changes arise in the mind, be aware.

Do you see? In daily life, it’s not about reciting ‘seeing, seeing, etc.’ when the eyes perceive forms. Such practices are Samatha (calmness meditation), intentionally noting and reciting or narrating. When hearing a sound, some recite ‘hearing, hearing, etc.’ This doesn’t constitute true Vipassanā (insight meditation) and it is not mindfulness cultivation in daily life. Imagine crossing the road, walking while reciting ‘lifting’ and ‘moving.’ A car will run over you before you make it to the other side. That’s not cultivating mindfulness in daily life. Cultivating mindfulness in daily life involves living normally but remaining aware of your own mind. With eyes, you see forms. With ears, you hear sounds. With a nose, you smell scents. With a tongue, you taste flavors. With a body, you feel sensations. With the mind, don’t forbid it from thinking, contemplating, concocting, fabricating, being good, being bad, being happy, and suffering. Instead, remain aware of it.

Therefore, to cultivate mindfulness in daily life, we must remain aware of our mind. When a joyful mind arises after contacting an object through the six senses, be aware. When a suffering mind arises after contacting an object, be aware. When the mind becomes wholesome after contacting an object, be aware. When the mind becomes unwholesome after contacting an object, be aware. Regarding the mind’s behavior: when the mind becomes lost in the past or the future, be aware. When the mind sinks and focuses, for example, watching the breath, the hands, the feet, or the abdomen, be aware that the mind has sunk and becomes focused. When the mind escapes to thoughts, be aware. We must remain aware of the mind to cultivate mindfulness in daily life. If you are not aware of your mind in daily life, you can’t truly cultivate mindfulness. You are merely practicing self-mortification, forcing yourself throughout the day. Then, you claim to practice all day, while you are not really practicing.

Luangpor practices meditation and observes the mind in this way. When waking up, the mind is about to emerge from the sleep state. If you observe this process upon waking, the mind arises first from the sleep state, and it doesn’t yet know what object to perceive. It arises initially, followed by the arising of thoughts, and then another phase where awareness expands to perceive the body. You will immediately notice the body’s posture, whether the mouth is open, or if it’s on the left or right side. This will become apparent immediately.

Therefore, if we practice well, we are aware from the moment the mind emerges from the sleep state. When the mind arises, if it engages with thoughts, or if it arises without contacting anything, then nothing happens until it senses an object. When it arises, if we think, ‘Today is Monday,’ once we realize it’s Monday, we might feel, ‘Oh, so boring. Gotta crowd in, traveling to work again.’ The mind feels bored, so bored. Instantly, mindfulness arises and recognizes that the mind is bored. Just waking up and realizing it’s Monday, the boredom sets in. When we realize it’s Thursday, happiness arises. When Friday comes, you feel jolly. Can you read yourself here? Is it too challenging to read? It’s not difficult. If it were difficult, Luangpor couldn’t do it.

Luangpor is not someone exceptional, but a person who is patient, observant, and not easily convinced. Therefore, I am absolutely not superstitious, as Luangpor is someone who doesn’t easily believe. However, in Thailand, many people are superstitious. They have conducted a survey—I don’t know what kind—and claim that 74 percent of Thai people are superstitious. The remaining percentage is not superstitious. The non-superstitious might not necessarily be Buddhists; they could follow other beliefs.


Practicing starts from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep, except during works that require thinking

Observe how our minds are upon waking, how our bodies are—be aware. Upon getting up, we need to take a shower. In winter, when you must shower in the morning, the mind feels apprehensive. In the past, there was no hot water, no water heaters; there was only water in big clay jars. How many of us have ever showered with a clay jar? Raise your hand for Luangpor to see. The elderly ones; the younger generation doesn’t experience that anymore. When it’s cold, and we see water in the jar, it’s frightening, terrifying. The first bowl is the scariest. When it reaches the tenth bowl, it’s no longer scary. By the last bowl, we are delighted, happy. When finished, we wipe ourselves dry. Our mind goes from fear to complete indifference. Once wiped, the body is warm, and the mind is then happy and content.

You see? The mind changes just like this. Even just taking a shower, the mind undergoes a lot of changes. Before showering, looking at the clay water jar in winter, the mind is terrified. You shower with fear, feeling terrified. As you’re almost done, you’re starting to be happy. Once done, drying off and putting on clothes, you feel warm. In the cold, after finishing a shower, do you feel the warmth? Do you feel happy? We can read our minds. The mind now is happy.

Back when Luangpor was a layperson, during lunch break, I walked to the cafeteria at the workplace; there were many food vendors. As I walked, I saw this vendor; they sold food just like yesterday. Another vendor also sold food that was the same as yesterday. In fact, it’s the same throughout the year. They have always been selling the same thing, never anything else. Seeing it, I felt bored. But there’s no other choice. So, I just chose one—my favorite. The first bite was delicious. But for the following bites, satisfaction decreased gradually.

It’s not only about having a meal. For example, let’s say we have a great love for eating durian, especially the golden pillow durian. Imagine having an abundance of it, like a tray full. The first bite is the most delicious. It gives the greatest satisfaction. By the twentieth bite, it’s starting to feel queasy. Not tasty anymore. The feeling changes. The degree of satisfaction changes constantly. From satisfaction to dissatisfaction, from dissatisfaction to satisfaction. It changes all the time.

We have mindfulness to be aware of what’s happening. That is, whether we’re eating, taking a shower, or even going to the bathroom, we can practice. Let’s say, today, we have constipation – is your mind at ease with constipation? No. If we have constipation and we can take a dump, are you happy? Happy. You see? Practice to read our own mind. It’s not difficult. Or when we’re driving, stuck in traffic. We see many cars and stuck at the red light. If our car is the twentieth in line, we can accept it. But if we’re the first one in line at the red light, that’s the most painful. Do you feel it? If you drive and become the first one stuck at the red light, oh, it’s very painful. We get mad at the last car left before us, “it drives too slow so I can’t follow. Off it goes!”

You’re also like that, right? So this is how we meditate. Do you understand? Meditation isn’t about closing your eyes or anything like that. It’s about being mindful in your daily life. Just seeing a green light makes you happy already. If you see a green light, and you’re the fiftieth car, you’re not sure whether you’ll pass or not. Have you ever felt that? Oh, when you’re getting close, you want the cars in front to hurry up, quickly, quickly. When it’s a yellow light, you rush to escape. Rush off immediately. This is meditation in everyday life. Train yourself well. If we can do it, each day we’ll have plenty of time for practice, way more than enough. There’s this research about office workers. We claim that we work for 10 hours, 12 hours. According to the research, the actual working time is 4 hours. The rest of the time is absent-minded, thinking this and that, unrelated to work. Thus, if we don’t waste time letting our minds wander, one day we’ll have a lot of time for meditation. The time we need to think about work is 4 hours.

They hired us to work, not to meditate. In the past, Luangpor knew a woman. She came and asked Luangpor to help push her to become the chief of the division. She was the division director at that time. Luangpor said, ‘I can’t help you yet; perform work first. If you can’t figure out what to do, I’ll help you find a project to do.’ Then, she got mad at me, saying I was mean to ask her to perform work and to find a project for her to do. So, I said, ‘They didn’t hire you to meditate.’ This is called ‘not knowing your responsibilities.’ Not knowing one’s responsibilities is corruption.


Once we become adept at reading our own minds, practicing in our daily lives won’t be challenging anymore

Therefore, practicing in daily life is challenging for ordinary people who cannot read their own minds. It is not difficult at all for those who can read their own minds. The method to train ourselves to quickly understand our own minds is to engage in formal meditation and diligently observe our minds. Choose a meditation practice that we are comfortable with. If we seek tranquility, gently focus the mind on the meditation object, avoiding wandering elsewhere. This is tranquility meditation. If we aim to cultivate wisdom, the mind must be firmly established in awareness and then observe our own mind, without staring at it. If we stare at it, it becomes still and doesn’t reveal what it’s doing. It becomes empty.

If we want to practice, we read our own minds. We meditate. Today, the mind is restless, and we feel irritated. The mind is not calm at all. We’re irritated; be aware of the irritation. We practice reading ourselves. Today, the mind is calm. Hmmm, comfortable. Happy, knowing that we’re happy. Also know that we are pleased with and fond of happiness. Practice reading like this. While sitting or walking in meditation, if the mind wanders to think, know that it has wandered. This is an unwholesome behavior, the behavior of a mind that has wandered. Practice reading by observing feelings and observing the behaviors of our own minds.

Once we become adept at reading our own minds, practicing in our daily lives won’t be challenging anymore. It’s not about self-mortification; as you see, we aren’t forcing ourselves. Let our eyes see, let our ears listen. It’s not about walking with the head down, seeing only earthworms and millipedes. It’s okay to let your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind contact objects. But once contact is made and changes occur in the mind, be aware. That’s all. What’s so difficult about it? And as we observe like this throughout the day, our mind will gain strength and power because it has awareness often, again and again.

As we continue cultivating mindfulness, at times, the mind shifts and merges into a state of stillness, briefly finding calm. Then, it withdraws and becomes aware of changes when in contact with objects, for a while. Subsequently, the mind switches back to cultivate tranquility again, oscillating between the calmness meditation and the firmly established in awareness meditation, wherein the mind can cultivate wisdom. No one can sustain wisdom cultivation for many consecutive hours; the mind shifts back and forth like that all the time. Wisdom cultivation isn’t extensive; our mind must be in the correct state.

As we’ve been cultivating wisdom, sometimes, without intending to observe or cultivate wisdom, awareness suddenly arises spontaneously, and the mind becomes firmly established in awareness, giving rise to knowledge and understanding. This body is subject to the Three Characteristics; the mind is subject to the Three Characteristics. Understanding arises, and then the mind attains rapture and joy. Sometimes, the mind stays radiant for about a week, experiencing happiness. In my case, Luangpor didn’t like sitting in meditation. This is not a good habit. Later, I’ve started practicing sitting meditation. I used to look down upon it because I’ve been practicing it since childhood, feeling like I didn’t gain anything from it. However, when I practiced cultivating wisdom, I felt I achieved many good results. However, after a period of wisdom cultivation, my Samādhi power weakened, and I had to return to sitting meditation. If I didn’t, the mind wouldn’t have strength; it wouldn’t be functional.

Gradually, with daily practice, we’ll smoothly navigate this path without stumbling or falling prematurely. Many people, as they walk, deviate and fall off the path. It’s pitiable. They desire goodness, but lack enough willpower. They wish for good, yet they are attached to comfort and pleasure, entangled in this worldly attraction. Pity them; the world captivates them, and they mistakenly think it’s happiness or some kind of enjoyment. Unfortunately, happiness doesn’t last. When people are young, they say, ‘Wait until I’m old before practicing meditation.’ When they are old and would like to meditate, meditation becomes challenging because sitting in meditation causes backaches, and walking in meditation tires the legs. It becomes challenging to do anything.

When we were young, we were pulled by the world. Day by day, we engaged in nothing but fun, reveling in it. When we get old and consider practicing, it’s not easy. You won’t make it. The mind, tainted by defilements for so long, is very messy—like deep-seated, stubborn stains. Cleaning it until it’s spotless is not an easy task. Therefore, it’s best to practice from a young age when the stains are not so prevalent. Do we have them? We’ll know once we submit our homework.


Methods to preserve our religion

At the temple these days, there are many Chinese students. They come from various countries. Almost a hundred of them come each day. A lot of Thai students now have to move towards the end of the dhamma hall. Their backs are against the wall already, and they can’t move any further back, otherwise they will have to move outside the dhamma hall. How does Luangpor feel about this? Luangpor feels compassion. The religion had disappeared from their land. Going abroad to bring it back is not easy. There are obstacles; traveling is difficult, there are expenses, and a significant obstacle is the language. There are many obstacles. Thus, we should strive to preserve our religion by studying and putting it into practice to gain a true understanding. By doing so, we will be able to preserve our religion. And in the future, we can pass it on to those who are interested. However, if we lack knowledge or understanding, it can be embarrassing, leading to a loss of face, especially in front of foreigners

The temple is almost transforming into an international one. People from various countries come, including Indians, Westerners, and Chinese. There are many visitors. The Dhamma does not belong to anyone in particular; it is universal. Foreigners come to learn and face difficulties. On the other hand, we can learn easily. Don’t be heedless. When Luangpor went to study with my teachers, it was difficult. It was even more challenging during the time of my teachers. They traversed forests and mountains, facing various dangers such as malaria, wild animals like tigers, elephants, and snakes. Many of them died. It was tough. In Luangpor’s generation, we could just take a train or a touring bus. The problems Luangpor faced and the problems of the previous generation are different. The difficulty for the previous generation was in traveling, but this was not my problem. My problem was the challenge of leaving work, while the previous generation didn’t need to leave work. They could just go whenever they wanted.

Each era has its own strengths and weaknesses. In this era, learning Dhamma is easy; simply open YouTube or visit the ‘’ Facebook page, and you’ll find ample Dhamma. I need to specify the name of the Facebook page, otherwise you will see something else. When we can access it easily, we tend to set it aside for later, thinking we’ll see it when we have free time. This is a pitiable situation. When will they truly understand the essence of the teachings?

Many people are teaching Dhamma, and those who learn often come to tell Luangpor that they teach just like Luangpor. Luangpor doesn’t mind, but why is it that their minds don’t understand anything at all? They lack mindfulness, Samādhi, and wisdom. Even though they teach the same words, it’s not necessary that when they transfer the Dhamma, students will attain the same understanding.

The same wordings, such as the Foundations of Mindfulness, everyone teaches from the same Tipitaka. But in reality, their minds are not right. I have not seen anyone with the correct mind. Even though they teach with the same wordings, their internal quality is different. It’s not good to talk much about this.

Let’s listen to my teachings more and then engage in the practice of reading your own mind, observing the body, and observing the mind. When you can observe the mind, observe the mind. When you can’t observe the mind, observe the body. When you can’t observe the mind nor the body, practice Samatha. Practice in this way consistently. Keep the Five Precepts. Some teachers don’t keep the precepts and don’t teach about them. Instead, they teach strange sitting and walking meditation techniques, leading to confusion and chaos. It leads to restlessness, and what do those who practice it gain from it? Do they gain anything? Yes, they gain joy. Practicing so, they get lost in joy, day by day. They are more to be pitied than admired.

Therefore, go and listen to my teachings. No one truly understands Luangpor’s teachings just by listening, because the Dhamma cannot be learned merely by listening. Listen as a guide for practice, and then observe your own body and mind. Only when you can observe your body and mind will you truly grasp the essence of what Luangpor is conveying.


Luangpu Pramote Pamojjo
Bann Jitsabuy
19 November 2023