Tips for wisdom practicing

There is an online dhamma course for Chinese practitioners during this time. There are quite a few hundreds people participating, around 300-400 practitioners. I sympathize with those Chinese practitioners as they cannot speak Thai. Hence, they cannot learn directly from the master like you guys. Therefore, always realizing that if you do not maintain and preserve Buddhism, one day it might just disappear from Thailand. Then those who wish to learn dhamma will have to find the masters from elsewhere. That will be difficult. You might have to learn dhamma from China. That is indeed not easy.


Gateway to achieving the enlightenment

As a result, pace up and pray diligently and try to understand Lord Buddha’s dhamma. At the very least, you can close the cycle once. Those who can close the cycle once are called Jolasodabhan (those who have eliminated defilements). Even if not reaching full enlightenment, they are still Jolasodabhan. Individuals at this level have a certain level of insight; they can see that the nominal and real aspects of dhamma are separated from the mind. Simply put, they can separate the aggregates. Then, understanding that various conditions arise due to causes, they know that all phenomena arise from causes, not from divine design, heavenly command, or anyone’s control.

Once one can understand the basics like this, one can at least close the cycle once. Then, the real practice of insight meditation begins. After that, you will witness the arising and extinguishing of the nominal and real aspects of dhamma. Initially, the mind may not accept it. Some people get bored, others get scared. When practicing, seeing that there is no ‘self,’ some may fear when realizing that the bodies do not belong to them. Some get scared, some get bored, and some feel there are only imperfections. This is the initial stage of practicing insight meditation. Later on you will get through these feelings.

When you can see the five aggregates, you realize your bodies and minds are not wholesome. The mind wants to escape from the nominal forms, but it still can’t. Even running away to the advanced level of meditative absorption, there are still forms and names. Even entering the formless realm, if forms are absent, names still persist. If one reaches the formless realms of the Brahma, there may be forms but no names, yet there’s still the presence of forms. No matter what one does, one cannot escape these forms and names. So, one must keep practicing continuously until one day the mind understands it can’t escape; it has to live with them.

By being with them, one continues to understand the truth by seeing both the nominal and real aspects arising, existing, and extinguishing. Ultimately, the mind enters the moderate practice with wisdom, knowing and seeing everything, experiencing happiness and suffering. Happiness and suffering cannot bring true contentment. Most people seek happiness but once obtained, they cannot maintain it. Soon, it just extinguishes.

People in general dislike suffering, but it is impossible to prevent it. It is beyond control. Nothing is within your power. Keep seeing this until your mind eventually accepts the truth. All these things are beyond your control. The mind becomes neutral with profound wisdom. This is a crucial point. You must endeavor to reach this point one day in the future.

If your mind remains neutral towards all different fabrications, whether the body is strong or weak, young or old, healthy or sick, you will see that it remains ordinary. The mind does not struggle, persistently trying to keep the body strong or to avoid aging, being youthful, or running away from physical discomfort. It does not struggle as it sees the truth vividly, either the clear reality of the body or the clear reality of the mind. A joyful mind is not permanent; it cannot be forced or controlled. Likewise, a suffering mind is not permanent; it cannot be forced or controlled. Whether the mind is wholesome or unwholesome, it is impermanent. Therefore, it cannot be forced or controlled.

As a result, the mind realizes that whether it is happy or suffering, wholesome or unwholesome, it is about the same. The mind remains neutral because of its wisdom. It realizes that everything falls under the Three Characteristics. Once you see this, your mind loses its fabrication. It naturally moves towards attainment concentration, and eventually attains the path to cessation of suffering. Hence, as we practice until the mind becomes neutral towards various conditions, it becomes the gateway to achieving results. Some people, upon reaching this point, even though desiring Buddhahood, may not achieve the desired results.

Those aspiring for Buddhahood should not fear practicing too much until they are free from suffering, whether fulfilled or not. The desire for enlightenment can obstruct progress. If it doesn’t materialize, it may lead to disappointment. Another group, upon reaching neutrality, may face deterioration due to complacency, requiring a fresh start in their prayers. To progress on the path of wisdom, we must be mindful and constantly aware of both physical and mental phenomena as they truly are, with a steadfast and neutral mind.


Be mindful and constantly aware of both physical and mental phenomena as they truly are, with a steadfast and neutral mind

Indeed, there are countless teachings and practices in Buddhism. Nevertheless, Luang Por has succinctly summarized all into a concise guidance: “Be mindful and constantly aware of both physical and mental phenomena as they truly are, with a steadfast and neutral mind.” This encapsulates the essential practice. The specific methods vary based on individual characteristics, and everyone’s aspirations and virtues differ. Attaining purity and liberation is possible through wisdom. Wisdom that sees the Three Characteristics of nominal forms. It’s not any other form of wisdom but Vipassana wisdom that leads us to the Path and Fruit of Nibbana.

Vipassana wisdom arises through the cultivation of both calmness meditation practice and insight meditation practice. Calmness meditation practice prepares the mind to ensure that it possesses the capacity for wisdom development. Insight meditation is the method for cultivating wisdom. The result is an understanding of the true nature of nominal forms, commonly referred to as ‘name and form’ or ‘the world.’ Understanding nominal forms leads to an understanding of the world, encompassing comprehension of various realms.

All living creatures have nominal forms, and the entire world consists of nominal forms. Understanding this leads to letting go of the world, releasing all that attach to it. The key to freedom from suffering lies in relinquishing attachment. Yesterday, Luang Por asked a Chinese practitioner “If you possess one feather from a bird on one hand and a mountain on the other, which is heavier?” Think about it, you have not carried the mountain, so it’s not heavy. However, if you hold the bird feather all day, it becomes a burden. Therefore, the burden or suffering lies in whether you pick it up and hold onto it or you let go. If you let go, then there is no suffering.

The Five Aggregates are suffering, like bird feathers. The Five Aggregates are suffering. If we do not pick them up, there is no suffering, similar to a mountain. If we do not lift it, it’s not heavy. The mind can reach this point when it possesses wisdom. Lord Buddha stated, “A person attains purity through wisdom.” This wisdom is not acquired through reading, listening, or self thinking. This wisdom arises through calmness meditation and insight meditation.

Calmness meditation is a way to prepare the mind to the next level, which is insight meditation. It is the path of meditative insight that leads to the realization of the Three Characteristics. What I always teach you; “Be mindful and constantly aware of both physical and mental phenomena as they truly are, with a steadfast and neutral mind.” This is the path towards growing wisdom and truly understanding the nature of body and mind through this insight and the Three Characteristics. With continued practice, the power of wisdom develops, and the realization of the Path and Fruit of Nibbana naturally occurs.

There is one sentence that I emphasized, “Be mindful and constantly aware of both physical and mental phenomena (with a steadfast and neutral mind)”. The steadfast and neutral mind is a result of practicing calmness meditation in the right direction. It involves 2 words, “steadfast” being steady and “neutral” being unbiased. One simple practice to prepare your mind to be steadfast and neutral is directing your attention inward, realizing that the work is within the mind itself. By recognizing that the mind’s readiness comes from within, we can directly engage with it without unnecessary detours.


Cultivating the steadfast mind

To possess a steadfast mind, you cannot simply command it. As the mind is non-self. It involves relying on mindfulness. By establishing a foundation of mindfulness through a particular action, you become aware of the wandering mind. An initial step is to be mindful of the mind’s wanderings through the six sense doors: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Initially focusing on one sense door can be more manageable.

During the time you first start practicing, as I taught you to choose one home base and be mindful. When your mind wanders, be aware. How the mind strays is like apprehending a leader – whether it’s catching a thief, quelling a rebellion, or facing any adversary. The key lies in recognizing the mind’s tendencies and addressing them at the source.

As a result, starting with one single home base and then being aware of the mind as it wanders through the 6 sense doors. This can be difficult as there are 6 channels. Just focusing on one, such as recognizing when the mind strays towards thinking, is a practical approach. The mind has a tendency to wander, especially into the realm of constant thoughts. Thus, engaging in a foundational practice and cultivating awareness of the mind’s tendencies is crucial. Whether it’s observing the breath, noticing bodily sensations, or any other practice that suits you, the key is to catch the mind at the moment it begins to drift. This awareness is the cornerstone for steering the mind towards a more focused and centered state.

In Luang Por case, my practice of mindfulness is through Anapanasati or breathing. By anchoring the mind with breathing, it prevents the mind from wandering into unnecessary thoughts. Regularly engaging in activities like mindful breathing or grounding oneself in foundational practices can cultivate a heightened awareness. This awareness acts as a beacon, reminding the mind to stay present and alert. When you realize that the mind wanders, the wandering mind then extinguishes and the knowing mind will then arise.

As a result, assign a home base and be aware when the mind wanders to think. In the beginning, choose only one, which is observing your mind as it tends to wander the most often. Once the mind has drifted into unnecessary thinking, at first it takes a while before you realize. The minds of people in this world keep wandering from the time they wake up until the time they go back to bed. It is like the mind wanders once during the day. But once you keep practicing, your mind will wander numerous times. The mind wanders for and hour, then you become aware. So today you can be more aware. Then over time, the gap between getting lost in thought and realizing it becomes shorter. Consistent practice strengthens the ability to bring the mind back to the present, creating a space for awareness to flourish. It’s a valuable journey of self-discovery and the cultivation of mindfulness.

Cultivating mindfulness allows us to be more aware of the wandering mind. Frequent awareness of being aware once your mind wanders sharpens our self awareness and reinforces the stability of the mind. The mind that wanders is the mind that is not steadfast. It wanders through different channels. Once you are mindful, you become aware of the wandering mind. Your mind becomes steadfast and upright without being forced. If you force or command the mind as most practitioners do, the mind will become stiff, uptight, and uncomfortable. An uptight mind is an unwholesome mind. It is not suitable for practicing. On the contrary, a wholesome mind is light, delicate, agile and active.

Why would we train the unwholesome mind? That only leads to suffering and torment encompassing both the body and the mind. Why endure both physical and mental suffering? It’s an evil path. Evil path yields retribution which leads you to choose a wrong path to practice. It arises from the outcomes of our past deeds, both old and new. Some people, upon practicing, experience stress. Their mindfulness shatters, and the more diligently they strive, the more they suffer. Intense efforts lead to inner turmoil, creating a blend of old and new altruistic influences. The fractured mindfulness does not bode well.

Therefore, keep practicing, engage in one home base in an area where you are skilled, and then maintain awareness of our own mind. As the mind wanders, be aware; being aware as it flows, the mind naturally becomes more steadfast. This occurs without any imposition. Strive to cultivate this daily, trying to establish it. Another key term in this context is “being neutral.” As Luang Por teaches you, “Be mindful and constantly aware of both physical and mental phenomena as they truly are, with a steadfast and neutral mind.” A neutral mind is one that doesn’t get swayed by favorable or unfavorable conditions.

Have you guys ever felt that when you meditate, sometimes you become stressed, restless, and your minds are not peaceful? Sometimes it seems chaotic, turbulent all day and night, and meditation doesn’t bring peace. Why is that? It’s because the mind is not neutral. If your mind is neutral, it becomes calm. When the mind is aware of the lack of steadfastness, it then becomes steadfast. Therefore, this is where there are two types of meditations. The steadfast mind that is cultivated through practicing. The mind is aware when it becomes restless. This mind is directly used for the practice of insight meditation, known as “Lakkhanūpādāna.”


Keys to practicing calmness meditation

However, if you want to relax after feeling tired from full engagement in practicing, or when realizing that the knowing mind is missing, leaving only a restless self, then you should practice another type of meditation, which is calmness meditation. The key to practicing calmness meditation is to choose a home base or an emotion that you feel comfortable with. That’s the first point. The second point is to be with that home base using a neutral mind.

So, let’s say we start by breathing – inhaling Bud and exhaling Dho. Our mind may be restless, but there’s no need to attempt to calm it. The more we try, the more we might fail. Instead, simply acknowledge the restlessness of the mind. Be aware that it is restless, and be aware deeper. No need to like it; just be aware of the mind’s preference. Be aware of both the liking and disliking, and rely on mindfulness.

So, when practicing calmness meditation, known as object scrutinizing Jhana, we invoke a state of calmness within a specific emotional quality. It’s not about possessing a steadfast mind and letting the mind settle naturally reflecting the Three Characteristics. Yet, this calmness meditation is a serene state that leads to a focused mind. One key is to consciously select an emotional tone based on wholesome states. In Luang Por case, I use mindfulness of breathing or Anapanasati. Those of you who study dhamma with me may not feel happy and calm using Anapanasati. it’s worth exploring other practices until a suitable one is found.

Let’s take the example of Phra Ajarn Ar, one of the closest disciples to Luang Por. Despite recognizing Luang Phor’s practice of Anapanasati meditation, Phra Ajarn Ar faces a physical challenge with nasal congestion, making it difficult for him to breathe comfortably during this meditation. Consequently, he opts for alternative practices like mindfulness of the body and the contemplation of impermanence, adjusting his approach based on his own conditions and needs. This illustrates the flexibility and adaptability of meditation techniques to accommodate individual circumstances.

Hence, choose meditation techniques that suit oneself rather than blindly following others. Understanding and selecting practices that align with your nature and preferences is key. Avoid getting caught up in trends or comparing with others; instead, focus on what resonates with your own inner experience. The goal is to cultivate a peaceful mind, so opt for meditation methods that bring you comfort and are accessible for you. Continuously observe the arising emotions during practice – if joy arises, be aware; if negativity arises, be aware. This awareness leads to a deeper understanding of your mind and helps you tailor your meditation approach accordingly.

Imagine yourself breathing like Luang Por. Yet, today the mind is not at peace. Have you ever heard of Luang Pu Sao? Luang Pu Sao is the Master of Luang Pu Man. Luang Por Put is a disciple of Luang Pu Sao, not a student of Luang Pu Man. At that time, Luang Por Put was a novice, staying with Luang Pu Sao. One day, Luang Pu Sao said to Luang Por Put, “Novice, today my mind is not peaceful.'”

Luang Por Put then wondered, how could the mind of Arahant be so restless? On that day, Luang Pu’s mind was unsettled because it wandered in contemplation. He was considering the relationship between various aspects of the dhamma, trying to command it. However, it couldn’t be commanded. Just like when you meditate, sometimes you think of taking a break but end up with the mind practicing wisdom. So, when you seek tranquility, but the mind moves to practice wisdom, it’s a struggle. Sometimes, you want to rest, but the mind keeps considering arising and extinguishing non stop, causing you to feel irritated. When you see the mind become agitated as it moves to practice wisdom, you then be aware and the mind becomes neutral.

Once the mind is neutral, it is then free from agitation. When the mind is free from agitation, it becomes instantly peaceful. The reason the mind is not peaceful is that it is agitated. It’s as simple as that. Just like how Luang Por breathes, and today it feels constricted. When the mind feels turbulent, and it becomes restless, we don’t like it. Knowing immediately that the mind dislikes it, the mind becomes neutral. It is then free from agitation. If we are restless, we know we are restless, and then we become irritated. The more we try to control, the more resistant it becomes, never finding peace.

Yet, as soon as we realize that we don’t like it when the mind is restless, the disliking extinguishes, and the fabrications of the mind immediately disappear. The moment the mind is free from fabrications, it becomes peaceful instantly. This is the key mechanism. I didn’t specifically teach you to practice in a specific way but rather teach the fundamental principles so that you can apply them to fit your preferences. Therefore, this summary comes from a vast amount of profound teachings, relying on trial and error, numerous experiments. It’s condensed into a brief essence.

If you want the mind to be peaceful, choose a foundation of feelings or a homebase that you feel comfortable and happy. Then, keep being aware of that foundation of feelings. If the mind experiences joy and satisfaction, liking the happiness and peace, we acknowledge the liking. When happiness arises but we don’t know, then we get stuck there, not reaching the profound level of tranquility. However, when happiness arises, and the mind likes it, acknowledging that liking, the liking ceases. When the liking extinguishes, the mind becomes neutral, entering a profound state. Can you see? Stepping from happiness into profundity, leaping to the fourth level of contemplation, then the mind is in equanimity.

Therefore, it’s not really difficult. Keep maintaining mindfulness and knowing the momentary fabrication of one’s own mind. Whenever you seek tranquility, engage in a foundation or homebase that brings comfort and familiarity. Whether tranquility arises or not, and whether there’s liking or disliking, acknowledge it. Progress towards a deeper, more refined tranquility. Ultimately, the mind enters a state of equilibrium with the power of meditation. At this level, it’s the mind at the fourth jhana level and the four formless realms. This is the method to make the mind peaceful.

The way to make the mind peaceful is to be neutral. If the mind is not neutral, being joyful about happiness can lead to fabrications. In maintaining happiness, being resentful towards restlessness can also lead to fabrications. In addressing restlessness, by adjusting the mind through meditation, prayer, and continual mental correction throughout the day may not bring peace if done merely out of restlessness. Cease trying to fix it and simply be aware of its nature. When the mind is not neutral, liking and disliking arise, just be aware. When the mind becomes neutral, then it is peaceful. This is the tranquility achieved through calmness meditation.

As for the steadfast mindfulness, I have continually taught you. Having a home base, as mentioned before, and instead of focusing on the feelings and embellishments, shifting the attention to knowing or being aware of the mind itself. Therefore, as the mind is at the home base, once it wanders to think, be aware. The mind wanders to think, keep being aware. Soon, the mind becomes steadfast and neutral.


Once we have a steadfast and neutral mind, we must cultivate wisdom

Once we have a steadfast and neutral mind, it becomes a mind capable of growing wisdom. The equanimous mind provides energy, strength, and vigor. Therefore, a tranquil mind with equanimity and awareness of mental states is beneficial, giving the mind strength.

Indeed, having a steadfast mind is highly beneficial, contributing to the flourishing of wisdom. If the mind is peaceful and not engaged in contemplation, it might appear passive. However, once we have a steadfast and neutral mind, it doesn’t mean being passive or indifferent. Instead, the masters always have taught us to assign a home base, then keep inhaling and exhaling or chanting Bud-Dho until the mind becomes steadfast and neutral. However, they do not clarify how to establish steadfastness or neutrality. They leave it for practitioners to figure out on their own.

After you have practiced for years, eventually, you could achieve a steadfast and neutral mind. You think you have to maintain and nurture the mind in this state as it is indeed precious. Once attained, you tend to hold on to it and try to preserve the stillness and tranquility but not growing wisdom. You now possess the tools, but do not use them for an ultimate purpose. The masters then have to push you to keep practicing to grow wisdom. Not just maintaining stillness. If the mind tends to keep maintaining stillness, then the masters advise that you observe the body.

This teaching also aligns with the practice of Kāyānupassanā (mindfulness of the body) and Satipaṭṭhāna (four foundations of mindfulness), especially suitable for those inclined towards meditation and contemplation. This emphasis on mindfulness and tranquility is consistent with dhamma practice. Have you read the story about Luangta Maha Bua? During the early years when Luangta Maha Bua went to see Luangpu Mun who taught him to chant Bud-Dho. Luangta Maha Bua then kept chanting Bud-Dho until his mind was at peace. The next morning, Luangpu Mun asked Luangta “What’s the stage of your mind?” Luangta answered, “The mind is peaceful.” Luangpu Mun then said “Good”. The next day Luangpu asked again the same question and Luangta said “The mind is peaceful.” Luangpu then said “Well, that’s good.”

After a while, Luangpu asked Luangta “Do you really want to be a hermit? It is now time to practice to grow wisdom. Just be aware of your body.” Luangta then continued to tell the story that once Luangpu Mun guided him to practice to grow wisdom, he then tried to be aware of his body but then his mind went back into tranquility. The mind enjoyed calmness as it was deeply absorbed in meditation. The master then advised that he resist this tranquility and deliberately engage in growing wisdom, challenging the deep absorption in meditation. This process involves resisting the pull of tranquility to allow the mind to go out and practice growing wisdom, analyzing the nature of the body.

In the beginning, despite persistent efforts, Luangta resisted coming out of deep absorption and kept returning to tranquility. After consistent practice, he eventually managed to grow wisdom. When Luangpu Man asked Luangta Maha Bua about the progress, the response was “I am working on growing wisdom.” Everyday he kept saying that but in the end Luangta was scolded by Luangpu Man. Luangpu insisted that Luangta practice calmness meditation as well. It would not work to simply engage in wisdom growing without sufficient meditation. That wasn’t the solution. The teacher emphasized that meditation was necessary; contemplation alone wouldn’t be enough. If the concentration wasn’t sufficient, it could lead to distraction and a wandering mind.

Once the mind is steadfast and neutral, the next step is to cultivate wisdom. In the teachings of the Tripitaka, it’s mentioned that when the mind reaches equanimity, it becomes a neutral and serene observer. At this point, it’s directed towards the development of insight. The term used is “Yānataṣṭanā,” which can be translated as “bringing the mind to knowledge.” In this context, “Yāna” translates to wisdom or insight, and “taṣṭanā” refers to seeing or perceiving. Developing insight means seeing things as they truly are, starting with the basic understanding that the body and mind are composed of the five aggregates—form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. This realization marks the beginning of perceiving the fundamental truth.

Indeed, the body and mind, consisting of the five aggregates, come together due to various causes and conditions. After observing and understanding this, the next step is to further develop wisdom. The practice involves recognizing the arising and extinguishing of phenomena under the Three Characteristics—impermanence, suffering, and non-self. As the mind continues to observe, it might experience boredom, fear, or a sense of meaninglessness. These reactions are indications of a higher level of wisdom emerging. It’s crucial to be aware of these feelings, allowing the mind to see through them. With the aid of meditation and the power of mindfulness, the mind gradually becomes more equanimous and neutral.

And then, it will seek how to calm the restless mind, pondering on how to break free, achieve results, and encounter spiritual enlightenment. How to navigate through the struggle? By cultivating mindfulness to be aware of the fabrication of the mind. Eventually, the mind realizes, no matter how hard it tries, the solution remains elusive. This is why I keep practicing every day, from the moment of waking since before I entered monkhood. Once I woke up, I planned on how to practice to improve. Seeking the right path, thinking about what will lead to a better day, pondering how to act for the best, and striving for ultimate reality.

Once I thought that doing it this way would be good, I started working on it throughout the day. Sometimes for 3 days, 7 days, or even a month, only to discover it’s not truly beneficial. At that time, I thought to myself “doing it like this doesn’t work, and neither does that.” In the end, the mind reached a point of reluctance and stopped doing it. It started to just be aware of whatever happened. Slowly grasping the understanding, witnessing things arising and extinguishing repeatedly. Understanding it for what it was until eventually, wisdom arose. Because I didn’t get entangled, didn’t interfere, the mind became tranquil with wisdom at its core.


The path we must walk

This is the path we must walk. The first step is to prepare the mind for the development of wisdom. A mind ready for the cultivation of wisdom is steadfast and neutral. To cultivate steadfastness, assign a home base and remain mindful of your own mind. When the mind wanders into thoughts, be aware of it promptly. Whether it’s getting lost in irritation or anger, the key is to know the mind as it is—knowing when it wanders and understanding it. Through this continuous awareness and understanding, the mind can develop steadfastness.

Indeed, for most, anger may not arise as frequently as wandering thoughts. Wandering thoughts persist throughout the day, while anger might be infrequent or, for some, nonexistent. Even when anger arises, not everyone acts upon it. To observe the mind that acts, you might look and find nothing there. As a result, focus on what exists – the mind that wanders in thoughts, which undoubtedly present throughout the day. Therefore, through virtuous actions, observe the mind when it wanders, knowing it when it wanders. Eventually, you’ll attain a steadfast mind – one that doesn’t wander, isn’t swayed, and remains calm.

The neutral mind generates strength and becomes a source of virtuous qualities. Keep practicing by having a home base and once the mind feels irritable, annoyed or unable to achieve peace, just be aware that the mind craves calmness. Recognizing these emotions and the desire for tranquility is a crucial step. In the past, even myself experienced a hunger for light during meditation. However, it’s not a literal hunger for light in a slang term. When I meditated, suppressing the breath, it transformed into a radiant light. This “hunger for light” metaphorically signifies the yearning for tranquility in meditation, wanting the light of peacefulness to illuminate every moment.

The mind is not neutral; it favors this. When the mind is satisfied, it fabricates. What to do to make it shine? If the mind wanders out, what to do to prevent it from becoming restless? If The word “doing” will emerge. Once that arises, the mind scatters and is never at peace. If the mind doesn’t engage in “doing”, it remains calm. Luang Por Sot, at Wat Paknam, once said, “Cease being someone seeking success. “Cease seeking success”, cease what? Cease fabrication.

Therefore, we cease with wisdom, not stopping merely because we meditate. Ceasing by relying on that is not effective. With wisdom, the mind refuses to stop, dancing with joy. You just have to be aware. Whether dancing with joy or struggling with negativity, just be aware and the mind will naturally cease. As we become adept, we contemplate tranquility at any moment, achieving instant calmness. So, gradually practice. When our mind is steadfast, neutral, and powerful, we engage in activities effortlessly. The mind loses its force.

The mind loses its force, then comes back to create new calmness. If the mind is still restless, you have to realize that the mind doesn’t like restlessness. Once the mind is neutral, it instantly becomes calm. This is solely a skill. If it’s an internal skill, it’s the key. The technique isn’t crucial, but the accuracy of this skill matters. Whatever we do next, whatever home base we utilize, this skill applies universally.

If we truly master it, seeking calmness becomes effortless. Merely observing a swaying leaf or flowing water brings instant calmness. Just aligning the mind with a single temper, it instantly achieves calmness because the mind isn’t biased; it neither likes nor dislikes. The mind remains neutral, so it has this skill. Today my teaching is unreserved, much like sharing a recipe. Understand it, apply it, and firmly establish awareness, recognizing when the mind is not steadfast, it then becomes neutral and calm.

That is why, I keep stressing “Being mindful and constantly aware of both physical and mental phenomena as they truly are (with a steadfast and neutral mind)”. Constantly being aware of both physical and mental phenomena as they truly are, is the cultivation of wisdom. What supports the cultivation of wisdom, being the cause and factor, is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is the state of being steadfast and neutral. This steadfastness is one aspect, being neutral is another. Establish steadfastness to engage in contemplation and maintain neutrality to recharge the mind with power.

Therefore, on days when we feel tired and the mind is restless, there’s no need to forcefully try to calm it down. No matter what we do, it remains restless. Just be aware that the mind does not like this state. Here at this temple, there are some monks whose minds, during the homework review session, become dark and cloudy, and no matter what they do, it doesn’t get any better. Just be aware that you don’t like this darkness. Once you’re aware that you don’t like it, the mind becomes neutral instantly, because mindfulness arises immediately. The mind becomes neutral, and energy arises instantly. Once there’s energy, the mind moves and it knows instantly. The mind then becomes steadfast at that very moment.

Therefore, the method to train the mind to be steadfast and neutral has been taught. Without this, we cannot truly progress in wisdom development. The scriptures also portray, “Mindfulness meditation is a cause that leads to the cultivation of wisdom.” The issue arises when you do not understand how mindfulness meditation works. I have clarified to you that mindfulness meditation is the state of being steadfast and neutral. So, apply this understanding, as there are two aspects to correct mindfulness: observing mental formations and observing physical sensations, both requiring mindfulness.

Keep practicing like this, the actual application becomes manageable. On days when the mind is restless, simply be aware that it’s restless. If you wish for calmness, be aware that you wish for it, and it becomes calm. It’s that simple. If today the mind feels dark, be aware that it’s dark, and as you dislike it, awareness instantly brightens it. It’s as simple as this. When the mind wanders and you’re aware, it naturally becomes steadfast. With a steadfast mind, there’s ample energy. Being neutral empowers the mind, providing strength and determination. Use it to develop wisdom, don’t stay idle.

Wisdom development means being mindful and aware of the body, not just passively existing with a still and indifferent mind. That doesn’t work. When you are mindful of the body with a steadfast and neutral mind, you will perceive the Three Characteristics of the body. When you are mindful of the sensations with a steadfast and neutral mind, it then reveals the Three Characteristics of the sensations. The same applies to mindfulness of feelings, and mental phenomena. With a steadfast and neutral mind, wisdom arises, revealing the Three Characteristics. Cultivate a mind that is steadfast and neutral in all four foundations of mindfulness, and it will reveal the Three Characteristics of each.

Indeed, as you can witness the Three Characteristics as I use the term, “Seeing according to reality,” the reality being the Three Characteristics. Like Asupha Meditation, which is contemplation on loathsomeness of the body. It is not the truth nor the Three Characteristics. So, what is good about it? Is it wholesome? Yes, it is as you can use it to oppress lust. When lust arises and the mind does not wander out through the power of lust, then it is calm. This is a way to calm the mind. You can address each unwholesomeness. For example, when lust arises, apply the Asupha Meditation and cogitate the remains of the body so that lust will extinguish. When anger arises, assessing wholesomeness for wholesome mental states, developing loving-kindness for ill-will, and so on. There are various methods, but the essence lies in one thing: being neutral. Be neutral toward everything, and calmness arises instantly.

Today’s teaching provides tips and guidance. It is up to you to apply it. If you still don’t understand the dhamma that I have taught, which is the dhamma I filtered from my true heart. There are live streams or recorded sessions available. Listen and watch, open your heart to new knowledge, and be receptive. Listen again and again; you won’t stay ignorant. Keep listening, and at some point, you’ll feel the understanding. It might deepen with each repetition. After several times, clarity arises. When you truly understand, you’ll realize there’s nothing in this world but suffering. Seeing this, you’ll transcend suffering.


Luangpu Pramote Pamojjo
Wat Suansantidham
21 October 2023