As we sit here, be aware of the body: aware that it’s sitting, aware that it’s breathing. See the body moving and shifting. Or be aware of something more subtle: the mind. It has different feelings occurring and working.
There are two aspects when we observe the mind. One is seeing feelings that happen in conjunction with the mind. We feel happy, unhappy, greedy, angry, lost or we have faith, diligence or effort in our practice. Become aware of our feelings often. See them often.
The other aspect is to see the behaviour of the mind: it’s workings. It runs to see. The mind that is looking is temporary and then falls. The mind that hears is temporary and falls. The mind that knows smells flavours, senses bodily sensations or thoughts, arises and falls. So observe its behaviour. One moment it looks, the next moment it listens, the next moment it smells a scent, tastes a flavour, feels at the body or is in a story. The mind has its behaviours. If we can’t notice its behaviours, then notice the feelings. Right now, is our mind happy or unhappy? Just know that. It’s easy. Or is it indifferent right now, neither happy nor unhappy?
There are three feelings to notice in the mind: happy, unhappy or neutral. If we’re not happy, then we’re unhappy or neutral. It switches between these three.
If our mindfulness is strong enough, we’ll see that happiness and unhappiness are actually the same thing. Whenever the body is suffering minimally, we feel that’s happy. Whenever the body is suffering more, we feel that’s unhappy. The mind is similar. The mind’s always suffering. Whenever there’s a lot of suffering, it’s obvious. When there’s minimal suffering, we believe it’s happiness.
Generally, people believe they’re happy sometimes, and unhappy at other times; that the body’s comfortable and then uncomfortable; that their mind is happy at times and suffering at times. Actually, these are rather insightful people. People that aren’t, don’t know when they’re happy or unhappy. They don’t know anything. They’re just lost. That’s not good.
But if we practice, we’ll see that the body is happy one moment, and unhappy the next, the mind’s happy one moment, and unhappy the next. If we keep practising well, we’ll see that, in reality, there isn’t any happiness. There’s just suffering. The body is nothing but suffering. There’re just lots of suffering and minor suffering. The mind is major suffering and minor suffering. Whenever there’s only minor suffering in the body, people call that happy or comfortable. When there’s only minor suffering in the mind, we call that happy.
When our practice is truly refined, we’ll see that other than suffering, nothing arises. Other than suffering, nothing sustains. Other than suffering, nothing falls away. It’s all just suffering that arises and falls.
When joy and happiness arise deeply enough, like they do in Jhana, it’s considered truly special for people in the world. But a practitioner with enough skills will know that when the mind has happiness in Jhana, it’s a realm. It’s a burden. It’s oppressing the mind. The mind doesn’t truly have happiness, it has a burden.
When we see things as they really are, then we become disenchanted
When we practice and see the truth of the body and mind, we’ll see that it’s not happy sometimes and unhappy at other times like we believed. The body only has major suffering and minor suffering. The mind only has major suffering and minor suffering. When we see things in reality like this, then we can release attachment. When we see things as they really are, then we become disenchanted, we release attachment and liberate.
Do we feel that we’re happy sometimes and unhappy at other times? If that’s how we feel, then we’re not a non-returner (Anagami) yet. We haven’t released the body. We still sense the body’s something that’s happy at times and suffering at other times. When we have these two choices, we choose to make it happy and avoid suffering. There’s craving or wanting for it to be happy and not suffering, for we don’t see the truth that this body is suffering itself. We only see major and minor suffering. We don’t see the truth. We see that the body has some happiness and some unhappiness. So there’s craving because there’s ignorance, or not understanding the truth, not knowing within suffering. So craving arises. Wanting the body to be happy and comfortable forever and not suffer.
See, not knowing that the body is suffering itself, that there’s only major or minor suffering, creates wanting. So ignorance causes craving to arise. Wanting lots of happiness for long periods—forever would be great! — and not wanting suffering. As soon as there’s wanting, then there’s struggle in the mind. The mind can’t be still anymore. It will move around according to the force of wanting. So when there’s craving, becoming, realms of existence are created. Becoming is the fabricating and struggle of the mind.
So let’s practice, and when we see the truth that the body is nothing other than suffering, and the mind is nothing other than suffering… We see the body first. The body is coarser, so it’s easier to see the truth of it than of the mind. So when we practice, we encounter the body first. When we see the body is nothing other than suffering, wanting the body to be happy won’t arise, and wanting the body to not suffer won’t arise. Once wanting doesn’t arise, then struggle won’t happen because that struggle, that becoming, won’t exist. With no becoming, there will be no birth.
What’s born? The feeling of the self. A self is born. A “me” is born. Then the struggle happens, riddled with suffering. Have we ever seen a fish on land? Sometimes a fish will end up on land in heavy rains, after following the high tide. Then when the water dries up, it gets stuck on land.
Around here, the water comes down from the mountain. Once it comes down, it quickly dries up. There are fish in that water, so once it dries up, it becomes a problem. They’re lying there, flipping around.
The mind is similar. The mind isn’t happy and it flips around. Our body isn’t happy and that’s why it flips and shifts around. Who’s able to see their body shifting around? Can we sit still without moving at all? We can’t. It’s suffering. We have to move. We shift to evade suffering, like a fish out of water.
This body is completely suffering. Let’s have mindfulness observing the body. Suffering is strong at times, and weak at times. When we first shift positions, the suffering is minor. We feel that’s happy. If we sit for a long time, we start to get sore and bothered because the pain’s come in. Then craving is next. We want to heal the discomfort. So then there’s fabricating: “What should I do to heal the aches and pains? I’ve got to move to solve it”. So the mind starts working, fabricating, and thinking different things. So we practice to see suffering.
We practice seeing the five aggregates are suffering. In summary, rupa and nama: body and mind. If you haven’t seen that the body is nothing but suffering, just major and minor suffering, then there will still be wanting the body to be happy, and wanting the body to not suffer. There will still be struggle, a burden for the mind and whoever has not seen that the mind is suffering itself, with just major and minor suffering, there will be wanting the mind to be happy and to not suffer.
Let’s assess ourselves. Why do we have to watch movies, listen to music, find tasty things to eat? Why do we have to chat with friends? If no one is talking to us, we send messages out on apps and wait thinking, “When are they going to read it? When are they going to answer?”. It’s a burden for the mind, all of this.
The reason we have to struggle so much is we’re struggling for happiness for the mind, and we’re evading suffering. We want to talk to a friend to relieve suffering. Sometimes when we’re really upset and we want to be consoled, our friends can’t help us.
Who here has had a broken heart? Raise your hand for me to see. There’s probably more of you than that. We need to experience a broken heart. It’s hard to enlighten if you’ve never had a broken heart. You’ve never really seen suffering then. When we’re broken-hearted and our friends console us, “It’s okay, you’ll be fine, don’t worry about it.” Does that help? Does it relieve suffering? No. Sometimes the friends consoling us end up putting more pressure on us, “Just break up with them!”. The reason we’re suffering is that we still love them, and our friends tell us to break up with them. It causes us even more pressure and more suffering. We go to our friends for help and we leave them suffering even more.
This is how psychics make their money, consoling people. People feel better and give them money. We can’t accept the fact that the mind is suffering itself. We want it to be happy, and we want it to not suffer. We waiver in so many ways. We feel upset and then drink alcohol, go out on the town or talk to all kinds of friends, looking for consolation.
Those that console us are suffering too. They’re already suffering a lot and then they have to listen to our suffering. I feel sorry for them. People are suffering and that’s very unfortunate, but I feel even worse for the one who has to do the consoling. They’re minding their own business, and then people dump a bunch of suffering on them.
Monks get that a lot. When a layperson feels upset, they want to come and be consoled by a monk. Some monks are kind and give advice. In some cases, a lady comes with a broken heart. The monk feels bad for her, gives advice… and then ends up with her! The monk really helped with that broken heart! Oh dear.
Right to the core, right to the suffering
When we learn the Dhamma, let’s learn it right to the core, right to the suffering. If we don’t know suffering, we don’t know Dhamma. Let’s learn that the body is suffering. There’s only major or minor suffering. Seeing that, there will not be craving for happiness and not suffering. Let’s learn within this mind. There’s this feeling and that feeling, moving and changing all the time. The mind moves to look, to listen, to think. Its activities keep shifting. Why is it shifting like that? Because it’s suffering. But we don’t see it.
If we see it by being aware of this body and mind, one day we’ll see the truth that this body is suffering itself, and this mind is suffering itself. That is what knowing suffering means: knowing rupa and nama, or the five aggregates, are suffering. Rupa and nama mean physical and mental states.
If we separate it further into more mind-aspects, then we separate into the five aggregates: one physical and four mental: feelings, perception, formations and consciousness. Some people prefer to separate physical more than mental, so they can distinguish the different sense doors. We can separate the five aggregates, or from the perspective of the six sense doors: the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body are the physical portion and the mind is the mental portion. So let’s gradually distinguish the parts, one from another. We can separate the five aggregates or the six sense doors, whatever we are better at.
Once we separate these things, we can look and see that the physical forms are impermanent. Are feelings permanent or impermanent? Are feelings of happiness or unhappiness permanent? Is perception, including memory and interpretation, permanent? Sometimes we remember things, other times we don’t. There’s no certainty.
I’ve had my memory disappear on me in a very abrupt way. It wasn’t Alzheimer’s, but rather the mind demonstrating the truth of impermanence. I was working for the government. In the evening, I was taking the ferry home in Nonthaburi. When I disembarked, I just took a few steps and my mind entered concentration. When it came out, I didn’t know who I was; I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t know where I was going. I had no memory left at all! But I wasn’t shocked. If that happened to us, we’d be shocked, but I wasn’t. “I don’t know where I am, so I’ll just stand here”. I knew one thing, that this phenomenon was impermanent. Wisdom knew that memory had disappeared for me to see. Memory is hard to see the truth of.
Feelings, like happiness and unhappiness, are much easier. They’re in the vedana aggregate. Happy and sad feelings are mental phenomena, and they arise and fall. But happy, unhappy, good and bad states are not the only mental phenomena. Happy and unhappy belong to the feeling or vedana aggregate. The good and bad mental states belong to the sankhara or mental formation aggregate. Then there’s the memory and perception aggregate. Memory can disappear on a dime. I hadn’t seen that before that instance. I wasn’t shocked, I just stood still. I knew that all phenomena that arise can also fall, so there was nothing alarming. I stood still for a moment, and then my memory returned: “Oh yeah, I’m on my way home.” But it didn’t come back completely because I thought, “Where do I live again?” I still didn’t walk because I didn’t know which way to go. I might walk the wrong way and then would have to come all the way back. So I stood there, aware, and memory just arose. Perception arose.
So, perception can arise and fall. But it’s hard to see. If our mind has deeper meditative states, perception can completely disappear for a while. It’s as if there is perception, but also not perception. It’s like there isn’t any, but it’s there just a bit. Keep practising and maybe you’ll see and know for yourself.
The feelings and the formations are easy to see. Noticing happy or unhappy states is easy. Noticing in this moment if we’re happy or unhappy isn’t hard. If there’s a wholesome or unwholesome formation, if the mind right now is one that’s meritorious or unscrupulous, that’s not hard to see. Anger. When there’s a defilement, aversion, or greedy, wanting this or that, or when the mind has gotten lost and has wandered off, those are easier. Keep learning all the different phenomena. Happiness feels like this. Unhappiness feels like that. Neutrality feels like this. Good quality states are like this. Greed is like this. Aversion is like this. Lost is like this. A busy mind is like this. The mind stuck in a state is like this. Train to know mental phenomena frequently. Then, when different phenomena arise, mindfulness will follow immediately. Unwholesome states will fall away on the spot. But when we have mindfulness, wholesome states may not drop off immediately. Sometimes the mind that wants to listen to o practice Dhamma. At times this kind of wanting can stick around for hours. But if the mind is lazy and mindfulness sees the laziness, it disappears on the spot. So keep learning within this body and learn within this mind. One day you’ll see the body is nothing but suffering and the mind is nothing but suffering.
In my third year as a monk, I was with the nun and Phra Ajahn Aa. He was the expert tree planter and we also had one dog. The dog didn’t water the plants, it just occasionally urinated on them! The remaining three of us would water the plants. It was tiring. The sun was hot. In the mornings, I’d teach the laypeople and then once they left, I was tired and had a chance to rest. In those days it was very tiring to teach people because at that time I taught with greed. I really wanted the students to understand. These days I’m much more equanimous to that. It’s not as tiring. If when I teach, the students understand, that’s their merit. If they don’t understand, I’m equanimous to that. If you don’t understand it’s not a problem, just listen repeatedly. Practice seeing the truth and then one day you’ll understand for yourself. It’s not possible that we’ll all understand everything listening to the Dhamma one time. Some people listen once and understand. Some people listen all year and don’t know a thing. After ten or twenty years, sometimes, the mind gets it. Some people are quicker and some are slower. We each have different spiritual faculties. Those mornings, I wanted the students to really understand, so it took a lot of my energy to help them to try to see. This method was not effective. Anytime I stopped helping, it would deteriorate immediately. At first, I wanted them to really understand. I had pity and used my own energy to try to make them aware. It was tiring, and for no benefit. It wasn’t a reasonable thing to do.
So once I was tired, I didn’t know what to do, so I’d lie down and rest. After about 2pm I had to get up to water the plants. Sometimes I couldn’t get up. My mind was awake but the body wouldn’t move. I ordered the body to stand up, wash off and water the plants but it wouldn’t move. But it was still breathing. So I’d slowly move my feet, starting with stretching the toes, moving one toe at a time. It was sort of like someone who was paralyzed working back some feeling in their toes. As soon as I could move my toes, then I’d move the foot side to side. Once while I did that, my mind entered a deep state and saw the body as a mass of suffering. The body isn’t a self, isn’t under any control and is truly suffering. After seeing the body was suffering, the mind was at ease. It didn’t matter how the body was; it was the body’s business. It wasn’t the mind’s business.
When I was ill in the hospital, the body had tremendous suffering. Some of the doctors were so concerned about me, about my nutrition and they put needles with sugar water in each of my fingers in one hand. They were about to do the same in the other hand. I told them one hand was enough. Or when I was sleeping at night, the nurse would come in and ask to take my temperature and blood pressure. I’d think, “Well, my pressure’s surely up now! I was sleeping so soundly and now you’re waking me, forcing me to get up and checking my blood pressure in the middle of the night.” It was a lot of suffering. They’d poke and prod me, cut me open, examine this and that. I saw that the body was suffering but the mind felt that this was just normal. It’s normal that the body will be like this. Sometimes the doctors and nurses would ask, “You’ve been in the hospital for months, are you bored?”. I’d tell them, “I’m not bored. Boredom is aversion”. They didn’t know what I meant. So let’s practice until we see that the body is truly suffering. Illness is a lot of suffering. As we approach death there’s tremendous suffering of the body until it dies.
Sometimes getting surgery, the doctor does their thing. I’d just sit still. The doctor would be curious and ask, “Are you sleeping?”. I’d reply, “No.”. The doctor would ask, “Then why are you so still?”. I’d answer, “Would you like me to struggle and make suffering noises?”. I’ve trained well. If the body’s in pain, that’s the body’s business. The mind doesn’t hurt along with it. Keep training and you might become as meritorious as I was to be in the hospital for months and get to feel this and that pain. Mindfulness and wisdom will arise. For those who have never been broken hearted, had their dreams shattered or been seriously ill, I’m not sure this a good or a bad thing. When told to observe suffering, they don’t know what to observe. Everything is too easy. So when we have suffering, let’s not be angry with it or sad about it. Suffering is suffering. Suffering is our teacher. Where is suffering? Suffering is in our body and mind.
During Covid-19, they don’t let us outside. Is the body suffering? No, it’s not really. Right? It still has food. Is the heart suffering? Sure. We don’t get to go out. So it’s hungry to go out, hungry for objects. The mind is riddled with suffering and stressed. I saw pictures of people in state quarantine. They’re in nice hotels. Some of them had quality minds. They’d post pictures and described how the government is taking good care of them. The conditions are comfortable. But other people are upset about everything. The food stinks, is tasteless, or sometimes the food is cold. They weren’t pleased with anything. These two people were in the same conditions for 14 days, in the same hotel, and with the same rooms. So why are the happiness and suffering of these two people unequal?
Those who have trained to accept the situation they’re in, won’t suffer. Those who cannot accept the situation they’re in, suffer. It’s just that simple. The Buddha taught us to learn suffering. To learn that this body and mind are suffering proper. When we learn the truth, then desire is eliminated. When desire’s eliminated, there will be no more shifting and struggling. When there’s no more shifting and struggling, there’s no more suffering.
So let’s keep training and suffering will reduce gradually and the heart will be happier and happier. It won’t be a clingy happiness though, not the regular type of happiness we experience. The happy feeling is just ‘suffering minor’. But Dhamma happiness is true happiness. It’s cool, calm and refreshing like a cool breeze inside our heart. There’s no hunger and no struggling. The mind that understands Dhamma comprehensively has wisdom and morality protecting us. It’s a happier and happier mind. Once there’s liberation, there’s the highest happiness. Starting from liberating from the body, and no more attachment to the body, and then no more attachment to mentality. There are two aspects to mentality. One is the formations of mind, and the other is the mind itself. The mind itself is formless. The formations have a subtle form. Does craving have a form, a form? It does, right? It has some form, therefore we can distinguish it as craving. Does anger have a form to it? Who has seen anger? It shoots up, right? If it’s really strong, it goes all the way to our head. So it has a form that is identifiable. Once we practice all the way to the end, the craving for forms and the craving for the formless disappear together. There isn’t any attachment to the mind or formations anymore.
This may not be completely consistent with the texts, but just take it in. The texts say that the craving for forms, is about the form jhanas and that craving for the formless is about the formless jhanas. Understanding that way, it’s unclear how the craving for them disappears in unison upon enlightenment. Craving for form refers to seeing that craving for forms is seeking pleasure in mental objects and formless craving is seeking pleasure in the mind itself. Once the mind is released then it’s all released. At enlightenment, craving for either disappear in unison. Similarly, sense pleasure and ill-will are also eliminated in unison when enlightening as a once-returner. Form desire and formless desire are eliminated together upon Arahantship. The more Dhamma we learn, the more refined it is. When we read, it’s just jello. It doesn’t really get to our heart. But when we keep practising, we’ll even know things like mental bodies. Not the Dhamma body, mental bodies: the body or figure of mental formations. Feelings are part of the body of mentality. Happiness has a figure, right? We can observe it. It has its characteristics. Suffering feelings have a form we can identify. Greed, anger and delusion have identifiable forms. So these are mental bodies. When the mind no longer attaches to the mind, then it doesn’t attach to mental bodies either. It releases all mentality.
It’s fun, isn’t it, learning dhamma? Practice each day, and we’ll get to see things we never saw before. We’ll get to know things we never knew. We’ll get to understand what we never understood. We’ll let go of things we could never let go of before. The mind will develop higher and higher. When you listen to me, it might seem hard. But it’s not that hard. I’ve taught you to come to know your body and mind often. Know the body standing, sitting, walking and laying down. Notice and know these. When the body’s moving, know often. You’ll see for yourself that the body is suffering. Regarding the mind, keep learning. It shifts from happy to unhappy, to good to bad, and there isn’t anything substantial about it. Keep observing and in the end you’ll know for yourself that all mental aspects are all suffering. There isn’t anything substantial about them. The mind will run out of attachment and enter liberation from suffering. It will be completely eliminated. It will experience Nirvana.
Many people do charity and then make wishes for Nirvana, “May this get me to Nirvana”. But they’ve never practised mindfulness so there’s no chance for Nirvana. Wishing doesn’t work. Instead, try knowing the body and knowing the mind frequently and then you’ll know that Nirvana is real.
Having mindfulness knowing the body and mind is practising the four foundations of mindfulness. The Buddha said that if there’s mindfulness within the foundations, then there will still be those that know Dhamma. Who is that? That’s us, who are practising mindfulness within the four foundations. Have mindfulness knowing the body and knowing the mind. Practice this profusely.
If we forgetting about our body and forgetting about our mind all day, there will be no liberation, lifetime after lifetime. It’s the nature of the mind to forget and to get lost. We can’t stop that. We therefore need a meditation object or a home base like repeating, “Buddho” or the breath, or using “Buddho” and the breath together, observing the rising and falling of the abdomen, seeing the body expanding and contracting, seeing the body breathing, seeing the body moving and shifting… and being aware. Keep awareness and one day, wisdom will arise. But don’t be aware holding the mind still. Nothing will arise, just foolishness. Allow the body and mind to work and have the mindfulness that follows up. One day we’ll see the truth that the body is suffering and the mind is suffering. When we see suffering, we see Dhamma. Knowing suffering with crystal clarity is when we reach the end of suffering. The end of the world. What we call the world is mental and physical phenomena. Luang Pu Thade taught, “When the world is eliminated, only Dhamma is left”. Dhamma isn’t eliminated when the world is. Dhamma is what’s left. That’s how it really is. So let’s do our homework: Be aware of the body and mind often. That’s enough for now.
Question 1: At the end of last year, you told me to walk often and be aware of my mind. I observe that my mind is scattered. There’s often aversion and irritation. My question is, should I keep walking or should I add a mantra?
Luangpor: Why add a mantra? The reason to add a mantra is because there isn’t enough mindfulness, but if you’re walking and you see things moving and changing, then that’s good enough. Keep walking.
In the past, I had a friend, the wife of a colleague. She couldn’t do any meditation other than walking. When she’d meditate, she’d fall asleep and no other object would work. So I convinced her to walk all the time. In the evening, I’d call her and ask, “Did you do your walking yet? Go walk!”. She walked until her feet were swollen and she couldn’t even wear shoes, never mind high heels. She kept walking until her practice was good.
As a more recent example, there was a person who is the head of a business with a hefty workload. When she got home she’d have to do the work of a mom, take care of her family, cook and feed them, do laundry. She took care of everything. They had a maid but she was very thorough so she was involved in all of it. She wasn’t free until 11pm, when everybody was asleep. She was available then but at that point, sitting in meditation would just lead to sleep. It would be so late, she was exhausted. So, she’d walk. She’d walk and be aware, watching the body walk with the mind as the observer. She kept doing this often until 1 or 2am. She’d sleep at 2am and then wake up at 4 or 5am and do her walking again. She’s a fighter.
Those who achieve the fruit of the practice aren’t couch potatoes! You need perseverance. How many hours a day do you walk? One hour? That’s pretty good. Keep developing. Eventually, each and every step will be part of your practice. Walking to catch the bus is a meditation practice. Going shopping and walking through the mall is a meditation. We need our practice to be integrated into our life. Then, in the evening, walk more formally as you do. During the day, with each step have mindfulness and persevere.
All those who achieved enlightenment had to persevere. The fruits only come to those who work at it. I teach everyone together. I teach everyone the same thing. Those who work hard at it, get to see the results. For those who just listen for fun and when I say, “Okay time to go home”, just stay, chit chat and make plans for fun afterwards, it’ll take a long before real results happen. You’ve got to do it yourself, no one can do it for you.
Question 2: This is my yearly report. Last time you told me to watch each of the aggregates working. I feel like I can watch more comfortably now and see more of the truth. I see defilements more often and suffering is shortened but I still feel that my practice wavers. Can I have some pointers?
Luangpor: That was all accurate. The practice has to waver. You’re not an Arahant. If you haven’t finished the work yet, then the practice will always be up and down. It’s normal. Don’t hate it. Expansion and contraction. Just know and wisdom will get sharper and know that everything arises and falls. The improving quality of mind arises and the deteriorating quality of mind arises and falls. Keep practising like this.
Question 3: This is my first time reporting in three years. I meditate 30 minutes each morning. I’m not good at sitting but I practice repeating, “Buddho” as a base. You’ve told me in the past that I can separate the aggregates and you want me to observe them working. I see more suffering, and more defilements but my mind is scattered and not equanimous. My question is, have I practised in the right way? What should I add?
Luangpor: You’re practising correctly, keep going. Practice often and just be careful of holding the mind still and controlling it, making it proper and calm. Right now, you’re holding focus. The mind is still, can you feel that? When you see me, you hold the mind still. That’s normal, but when you’re on your own, don’t hold the mind like this. Let it move and then follow it with mindfulness. You’re practising fine, keep going.
Question 4: I’ve been practising for three years under you. I do my Buddhist chanting for about an hour before bed. I see the mind moving to the ears clearly. I see oppression at the chest. I see moving and cycling at the chest. I see the mind awaken. I have two questions. One is: I need advice for how to resolve sexual desire.
Luangpor: There are many tools to fight sexual desire. One is vipassana. If we see the lust, we can see it arise and fall. That’s one way. Another way is using samatha. When there’s lust, we can contemplate the foulness of the body. This body is comprised of filthy things. Wherever the lust is directed to, is also comprised of a filthy body. The lust can dissipate.
But if the samatha doesn’t work and the vipassana doesn’t work there’s another trick. Lust will most certainly arise, you’re still a young man. There’s still sexual desire. It’s natural. Once the lust arises, it makes us conjure stories to stimulate getting deeply absorbed in the lust. Don’t encourage these thoughts. When there are sexual feelings arising, just see it. It will encourage thoughts about it. Do you know what I mean? It will encourage sexual thoughts. The more that we think about these things, the stronger the lust will become. It’s sort of like getting good food. Don’t give it food. The body has hormones, it’s a natural process. But when lust arises, it makes us think of sexual things. Stop thinking and know that there’s wanting to think about this stuff. If we can cut out the thinking about it, the lust will dissipate. It will be out of steam.
I teach the monks this in my temple because when lust arises for monks, it’s torture. It’s torture for good monks. Good monks are in a lot of suffering when sexual desire occurs. Sometimes it’s like their heads will hit the ceiling. It’s so hard to fight. I say, “Don’t worry about it, just stop thinking about it”. Don’t give it the food it wants and it will dissipate. It will lose power. Next time it comes up, you’ll see it for a moment and it will fall away. Use samatha and vipassana to fight it. If we’re losing that fight, then just stop the sexual thoughts when they come up. Once someone came to the Buddha and asked if the Buddha had sexual desire. He said, “I don’t have sexual desire because I don’t have thoughts about sex”. So let’s be aware of the thoughts that encourage it. Sexual desire, that’s a breeze to fight. Superficial.
Question 5: I’ve been practising in daily life by watching thinking and feeling pleased and displeased with what happens. I’m trying not to attach and I’m trying to let go of negative things in my life. I practice meditation. I do calm down but not so calm because thoughts keep popping up, but I’m not frustrated by them. I can be with the thoughts.
Luangpor: Keep practising meditation and don’t worry about if you get calm or not. We’re not practising for calmness, happiness or goodness. We’re practising to see the truth that there’s nothing that we can truly control. The body isn’t us; the mind isn’t us. Watch in that way frequently. Good, keep practising. Don’t hold the mind still, please.
Question 6: You told me to watch desire. I saw the process that whenever there’s desire, then there’s suffering that follows. It’s because of not knowing, that thoughts come up and fabricate and then my ego grows. It makes the ego get bigger. Now there are defilements manipulating the mind. Aversion and wanting to be free from suffering. How do I overcome this?
Luangpor: Just know it as it is. Just know when the mind isn’t equanimous. The teachings in this sentence cover the entire practice, “Have the mindfulness that knows the body and mind as they really are with a stable and equanimous mind”. You can use that all the time. When you waver from this practice, then it isn’t vipassana anymore.
Be patient. Don’t look for quick results. The more we want, the less we get. Wanting is the cause for suffering. So wanting to be free from suffering will make it impossible, because wanting is the cause of suffering. Just know when wanting arises. Be with the present. It’s good sometimes and not others. Keep observing. Seeing so many defilements is because your samadhi has faltered. It doesn’t have enough energy. The mind is too busy and the defilements are coming up excessively. Breathe in and repeat, “Bud”, and breathe out and repeat, “dho”. Do this every day when you have time. Do five minutes every hour, that would be great. The mind will have energy. Right now the mind doesn’t have energy. Without energy, the mind will move here and there. Defilements will consume us. Increase your samadhi. As I mentioned, not for peace, but breathe in, “Bud”, and breathe out “dho”, regularly, each hour. Five minutes per hour or so.
Question 7: My mind isn’t stable. I practice meditation incorrectly, and I’m hesitant to try again. Kindly help me. When I do meditation, I don’t observe the mind. My mind goes into emptiness. I try to get out of it but I can’t.
Luangpor: Don’t try to get out of it. When the mind is in emptiness, just know that it is. It isn’t permanent, it will come out on its own. If we hope for it to be this way or that way, the mind will be chaotic. So just meditate and when the mind goes into an empty pocket, just know so. If there’s pleasure from being there, then know there’s pleasure. If there’s displeasure that the mind is empty, then just know that there’s displeasure. The emptiness isn’t important. What’s important is knowing if the mind is pleased or displeased. Don’t reject this state. The mind that’s able to be in emptiness is a higher mind. It isn’t something to toss out, just know in an impartial way. Some monks here are happy while doing walking meditation and they get enamoured by the happiness. That’s not good. But if the monk is happy, is enamoured by the happiness, and knows the mind is enamoured, that’s good. Keep up the practice. Don’t quit.
Question 8: I see changes within myself. There’s progress, step by step. Please point out anything I’m caught in? Am I self-sufficient in my practice yet? Can I advise my mom?
Luangpor: Advise your mom? Advise your own mom, right? Let her listen to my CDs. That’s preferable. Your mind isn’t pure enough. There’s still greed. Like now, you’re holding control and stressed. The best way to teach our parents is to have changes within ourselves for them to see. Like if we were an angry and mean person and now we’re angry but not mean, there are changes. Then, you can tell your mom, “I’ve been practising mindfulness and I’ve changed”. You must have evidence for them to see. They won’t believe us if we just explain the practice to them without having our own results. “Oh, silly child!”, she’ll think. Practice correctly and have changes within yourself. Then when your mom sees the changes, you can tell her what you did to improve. Then she’ll believe you. Observe your ego, okay? It’s a strong one. Observe it when it arises.
Last week someone was causing problems here but we were able to stay peaceful and level-headed. It was a nice example for them to see. It’s nice to see others able to solve problems wisely. There was someone who came to the temple but didn’t reserve a spot. They saw the name of someone who had reserved and wanted to purchase their property. It was a bit frightening, and the landowner tried to hide. This buyer followed them to the temple. It was a headache, but you solved the problem well, and calmly.
The temple is not a place to find buyers and sellers for property. This isn’t a marketplace. A temple isn’t a place for politics, either. If you want to be involved in politics, then no matter what side you’re on, go ahead, but not here.
This is a place for the Buddha, for peace. All the headaches of this world are for outside the temple. When entering the temple, sense the cool breeze of peace of the dhamma. That’s someone who knows how to come to the temple. If you come in to deceive people, like showing off psychic abilities to gain respect and get money, then I must dismiss you. I’ve had to do that already. We’ve seen strange things. If we come to temple to learn the dhamma, to decrease our defilements, that’s appropriate. There are some women who come to wait for certain monks to leave monkhood. Don’t think I don’t know about this. This is a real issue. I don’t want to scold anyone, but find men somewhere else, please! Don’t disrobe monks. The most men that ordain don’t make a good living out in the world, anyway, so if you get them, they’ll just be sitting around at home, like a big child. It will create a big, long responsibility for yourself. Just leave the monks here at the temple, please!
23 August 2020