Worship by practicing

As we gather here to perform a light waving rite, we have to be aware that this is not just an aimless tradition. It actually is a practice to worship Lord Buddha. Worship by practicing has nothing to do with the behavior. The essence of this tradition is to express our sincere admiration to Lord Buddha or to Dhamma or to Sangha, the noble monks. Anyone can just show their respect through behaviors like walking with flowers, incense and candles in a light waving rite. However, as practitioners, we do not just perform a light waving rite with flowers, incense and candles. That is just material worship. It is not essential.

Worship by practicing is to keep practicing our mind as we are grateful for the kindness of Lord Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. As we perform 3 rounds of light waving rites, the first round we recall Lord Buddha’s wisdom; the second round we recall Lord Buddha’s purity; the third round we recall Lord Buddha’s compassion. Some people perform 3 rounds remembering Lord Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. But no matter how we remember, the Triple Gem, Lord Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha unite as one. Keep binding your mind with Buddha. Every step you walk, be reminiscent of Buddha. That’s the way to practice. Not just worshiping the materials.

Buddha statue is not Lord Buddha. It is merely a symbol for us to remember Lord Buddha. What really represents Lord Buddha is actually Dhamma. For that reason, when we perform 3 rounds of light waving rites, be mindful in every step we walk. Do not walk to pamper your defilements. Refine yourself to be neat and clean while walking. Do not walk to be fortunate or to be pleasant, but to remember the kindness of Lord Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Then your mind will gradually become neat and clean.

Initially, when you remember Lord Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, you will then have focused concentration. In this meditation, there is a constant recollection of Lord Buddha’s gracefulness and contemplation on the virtues of Lord Buddha, the wisdom, the purity and the compassion of Lord Buddha. When you remember these virtues, you can also recall the nobility of the monks, not each individual monk but the monks who are the disciples of Lord Buddha. Be obedient to Lord Buddha’s doctrine and practice so you can be free from suffering.

The way we chant “Supatipanno bhagavato sāvaka-sangho” The Sangha, the blessed one’s disciples who have practiced well. “Uju-patipanno” The Sangka, the blessed one’s disciples” who have practiced straight, not wandering around. Those who wander around like those who practice for good luck or practice for power are not considered Uju-patipanno. “Nāya-patipanno” the blessed one’s disciples who have practiced insightfully in order to be free from suffering. As a result, if you want to be a noble monk but practice without a goal to be free from suffering, but to gain other things, then you are far away from being a noble monk. “Sāmīci-patipanno” the blessed one’s disciples who have practiced with integrity. Keep practicing constantly and appropriately and one day you will reach the state of monkhood. Whether you wear the robe of a Buddhist monk or wear pants or skirts, it does not have much significance. It is just superficial. The essence of this is that your minds can be noble monks, no matter which walk of life you are from, as long as you keep practicing.

The benevolence of dhamma “Svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo” the teaching, well clarified by the Blessed One. “Sanditthiko” self-evident, immediately obvious to all. “Akāliko” unconditioned by time and be the everlasting truth. Whether Lord Buddha exists or not, the dhamma still exists. “Ehipassiko” welcoming all to come and proof with your own experience. The way to proof is “Opanayiko” something to lead inside yourself and inside your mind. When you lead dhamma into yourself and your mind, you will then learn the truth about yourself and your own mind. In the end, you will apparently understand. No one can teach you to comprehend dhamma but yourself.

We appreciate the kindness of Lord Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. When we recollect their benevolence, it is all about practicing your own self and mind. When we recollect the kindness of Lord Buddha, we appreciate that Lord Buddha had gone through so many hardships before he was enlightened. As disciples, we do not possess even a fraction of his wisdom. We then follow his wisdom as a guideline to lead the way for us. Lord Buddha, upon his enlightenment, was so kind to give us a direction, what to do and what to avoid.

This is the path that Lord Buddha had discovered with hardship but he was so gracious to educate us. During the time Lord Buddha had searched for Dhamma, it was very difficult. When he was trying to establish Buddhism, it was also hard. He went through so much exhaustion battling with false views. He did not fight with anyone but the false views. Therefore, as children of Lord Buddha, be determined and make a personal declaration that you will do what Lord Buddha taught us to do and refrain from what Lord Buddha forbids. Keep coaching yourself so your mind will not go off track.

Early this morning, I shared the story with the monks here that since the time I first ordained, I have never once been overconfident that I am the monk with so many disciples. I never took interest in that. When I consume, not only do I regard that food, I also consider all the food in my alms bowl people offered to me. I realize that people do not offer the food in my alms bowl because they respect me, but because they respect the uniform I wear as it symbolizes Lord Buddha. For this reason, people offer food in my alms bowl paying no attention to who I am. I receive the food to sustain my life due to Lord Buddha’s benevolence.

Our parents are so kind to us. They take care of not only their children but grandchildren as well. Lord Buddha did not just take care of his children but has carried on his mercy to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren for over 2,000-3,000 years and counting. All monks still receive food in their alms bowls as they are descendants of Lord Buddha. His graciousness is almighty. We receive food, clothing, residency, medication and so on, all from Lord Buddha. I keep training myself not to ever let my mind be arrogant or take pride that I am better than others. That is a defilement. If you pride yourself that you are great, you are better than others, that is ego. You will never get past suffering. You will just keep evolving in the cycle of rebirths.

As we are the children of Lord Buddha, we have to keep training and refining ourselves until our minds become cleaner. When the mind is cleansed, it will then see other people and other creatures as friends who once shared sorrow. We will see others with compassion. We will not be proud that we are superior to them. There will be no such feeling. If you still feel that you exceed others, then you surrender to defilement. Be grateful for Lord Buddha’s kindness by refraining from anything Lord Buddha forbids such as refraining from all defilements. What Lord Buddha has encouraged us to do is to expand meritable deeds such as not be greedy, not be angry, not be deluded but be mindful.

Train yourself well and you will realize that the more you practice, the farther the world is. Originally, you drown in the world, like worms that drown in excrement. When you keep practicing your minds, you then follow Lord Buddha’s footsteps. The minds will then be spick and span and move farther away from the world. You will see the mind separate from the world and not wandering around. In the end, the mind will be returned to the world. That is the final step. Now you just keep practicing and see that the mind and the world are separate. And once you practice enough, then in the end you will return the mind to the world. You will not be possessive of the mind that it is the finest and great stuff. It merely is a property of the world.

If you just learn dhamma but do not take it into practice, then there is not so much benefit. It may even be harmful. As you learn dhamma more and more, some become arrogant and have very big egos. They feel they know everything. Nowadays there are so many “gurus” who seem to know so many things. Yet, they do not know their own defilements. That is just invalid. This morning, I couldn’t remember who I taught, a group or a person. I told them that when practicing at an early stage, it is quite hard for the mind to be awake. However, once it is awake, the harder part is to be able to read your own mind and realize if there are any hidden defilements. The most difficult part is spotting your own defilements as the fine defilement sometimes looks like merit.

The fine defilement, like when your mind is tainted by defilement. You think you are developing wisdom. Yet, it actually is restlessness and agitation. The mind is distracted and bound by defilement. Sometimes the mind compares itself with others and the ego and ignorance cause the mind to think it is superior to others. Some think they are in line with others while some who do not flatter themselves and so do not have ego. They long to be as neat and clean as their masters. I used to travel to pay respect to my masters. When I see each of them, no matter how old they are, they all look so clean. I’m not saying their bodies are clean. The body is also not nice and rotten like ours. However, their minds are so neat and clean. I thought, when would my mind become so serene like the master’s. Then again, there is “them” and there is “me”.

This kind of ego, it does not mean I feel arrogant or superior to others. It is more like I yearn to be as good as my masters. It may not look like defilement but more like modesty. This is when the mind is shattered and it feels like it is developing wisdom. When your mind is arrogant but you think you are humble and modest. You think this is how you develop wisdom. When arrogance arises, you think you are modest. Your mind craves lust but you think your mind is not shattered and not mingling with the world. You feel content with happiness and peace in the state where your mind keeps focusing on the emotion until the mind is concentrated. In that state, there is a contemplation from focusing on an image and one that focusing on nothing. Those who focus on nothing will then feel content to be alone, not mingling with anyone. They think that this is a non-defilement state as they do not connect with anyone but practice alone in their own place. Then they feel calm and comfortable, not realizing that this is a defilement. They are trapped in a calm state.

Ignorance is the greatest defilement of all. It is the toughest one to spot. You have to practice continuously for a long time to be able to see the truth that, apart from suffering, nothing arising; apart from suffering, nothing existing; apart from suffering, nothing extinguishing. You will see through this level. Sometimes, you see yourself sad, or happy but you cannot see that the body is the suffering. As for your mind, sometimes you see your mind happy and sometimes sad. Yet, you cannot see that the mind is the suffering. When you practice, you spend so much time battling with defilements that arise here and there. When emotions impact your senses-doors, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind, then your defilements arise. You then realize those defilements arise. You can battle with those defilements. Yet, you can never notice the defilement that lurks inside your own mind. You merely think that defilements stem from outside.

When emotions impact your eyes, ears, nose, tongue and mind, defilements arise. Actually, the defilements already lurk inside your mind all along. The master of all defilements is ignorance. As a result, when you practice, you have to battle with defilements. Initially, you battle with the externally active defilements. When greed, anger or enchantment arise, be aware. If you cannot be aware, then all these defilements will just dominate you to commit a sin either through your body, your words, or your mind. The internally active defilements are mostly arising through your mind. Lastly, the latent defilement is ignorance. It is quite simple to spot the externally active defilement, especially those of others. That’s very easy to spot. When you meet a moody person, you can tell right away that he or she is moody; he or she is stingy, that’s simple to see. The tough one to spot is your own defilement as there are many layers, the externally active one, the internally active one and the latent defilement.

The externally active defilements are greed, anger and enchantment. The internally active defilements are all those that obstruct you from doing good and they generate lust, anger and delusion. Finally, the latent defilements are the defilements that reside inside your mind without a trace. They lurk beneath your trait. There are 7 of them, which you can search it up on Google to find out. These are the subtle defilements which can be destroyed by the Eightfold Noble Path. When you realize that there are many levels of defilements and as a result, keep practicing. If you still cannot be aware of the externally active defilements, then no need to bother discussing the internally active and the latent defilements. Just keep practicing. Your adversary is within you, not others.

Mental development can take place if you have enough Samadhi. When you practice walking meditation, be appreciative of the kindness of Lord Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Their merits warm your heart. You then will have the strength and Samadhi. When you are appreciative of the Buddhànussati; recollection of Lord Buddha, Dhammànussati; recollection of the dhamma and Saïghànussati; recollection of the noble monks, then you will gain Samadhi. Your mind will be secure and peaceful. It will gain strength and will walk along Lord Buddha’s footsteps. The way you can follow Lord Buddha’s footsteps is to practice and train your own mind. To train your mind, you have to practice 2 levels of meditation including calmness meditation and insight meditation. To be appreciative of the kindness of Lord Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha is the initial task when practicing calmness meditation. Once you have a calm and peaceful mind, then you can upgrade it by practicing until you acquire an upright mind, which you can develop to grow wisdom.

Therefore, when you recollect the kindness of Lord Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha, your mind will be delighted and will then have concentrated meditation. From there, if you keep practicing and constantly observing your own mind, it will result in a stable and natural mind. The way I used to practice, I kept breathing and constantly was aware of my mind. I did not practice to be happy or peaceful. I exhaled and was aware of myself exhaling, then I inhaled and was aware of myself inhaling. When my mind wandered, I knew right away that my mind wandered. When my mind kept focusing on my breathing, I knew right away that my mind was focusing. By that my mind was not wandering and not focusing. It was notably upright in the moderate practice.

Whenever your mind is in the moderate practice, you can then grow wisdom and separate the elements and aggregates. You will be aware that the body and the mind are separate. The feelings and the mind are separate. The perception, the fabrication or mental activity and the mind are separate. You will see the mind keeps arising and extinguishing through the 6 sense doors. That is a stage of wisdom development. But after a while, your mind will then feel exhausted and lose its strength. Then you have to get back to practicing calmness meditation. The way I practice calmness meditation is to keep breathing and be aware. My mind will then become bright, peaceful and then it will gain the strength to move on.

If you are still not capable of practicing wisdom development, then just keep recollecting Lord Buddha. Recollecting Lord Buddha and considering the dhamma that he taught. Thinking of the noble monks like Venerable Kaundinya, Venerable Sariputra, Venerable Moggallana, Venerable Kassapa, each of them possess different virtues. Each may be great in different areas but they all possessed one thing in common. They are all pure. Their purity is all equivalent and so is Lord Buddha’s. When we recollect Lord Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, and the purity of all Buddhist saints who are Lord Buddha’s disciples, our minds will then gain the strength to practice.

When I practice, I always remember Luangpu Dune. I have recollections of Luangpu countless times during the day. What the mind sees reflects what the mind is aware of. As I remember Luangpu Dune, I realize which state of mind I am that Luangpu will acknowledge and which state of mind Luangpu will blame. Even the way I think, I know whether Luangpu Dune will approve of or reject. Therefore, no matter what is in my mind or what I say, I feel like I’m being monitored by Luangpu all day. That is a concentrated mind. It is like I can connect with him. It is not like connecting with intuitive insight, that’s just a plaything. What I mean is when the mind is tightly bound with the masters, we will then remember them continuously. We will dare not do anything evil. We will not be lazy as we feel our masters are monitoring us. This is a recollection of the Sangha, not just chanting sangho, sangho, sangho, talking like a parrot.

Hence, when you think about Lord Buddha, remember his kindness. Remember Dhamma and Sangha, the noble monks. When you think, talk or do anything, be aware whether Lord Buddha will approve of or not. In the Tripitaka, there is a section about the monks who keep practicing. They realize that considering the way they practice, they cannot blame themselves. Their fellow monks cannot blame them as they have observed the precepts well. Even the Lord Buddha would not blame them. They observe the precepts so well, their purity cannot be blamed, even themselves.

If you can still see your own weaknesses, then keep practicing and try to move away from filthiness. Do not be proud of it. Those who are still ignorant, they are still proud of their filthiness. They still have egos, feeling they are superior. If they perceive themselves this way, they can go nowhere. Keep practicing and move away from darkness to brightness. Head out from a dirty place to a clean place. Escape from a disordered environment to a clear space. Keep practicing every day. When you practice walking meditation, be determined that you will follow Lord Buddha’s footsteps. You will follow dhamma and follow the path of noble monks. Keep following their footsteps while they last. Do not wait until the day their footsteps are all gone. You will then have no path to follow.


Luangpu Pramote Pamojjo
Wat Suansantidham
1 August 2023 (Afternoon)