Get up. Don’t bow down on the floor. We’ve provided chairs so your hands don’t have to touch the floor. Touching the floor defeats the purpose. These days we have to get used to keeping our hands clean. We have to be careful not to touch this and that. I had you sit on the chairs so your hands don’t touch the floor, so get used to that. We don’t know if the virus will come back so we have to get used to protecting ourselves.
I started early. We have five minutes, so let’s practice. Breathing and being aware will suffice.
Some people are asking when I’ll open up the temple again. It’s been open for a while now, since the first of August. But it’s open in the same way that restaurants and shopping malls are. They can be open but we keep distances and wear masks. Be careful of your hands. So we’re open. The Thai government and Ministry of Health have done a very good job. We’ve had over two months without any cases in the public, however the situation is quite grave in some other countries. Some close to us like India, Indonesia and Pakistan are having trouble. We have to be cautious and train to get used to new habits. Mindfulness will help us because when we lack mindfulness, we lose track of our hands, touching, grabbing, rubbing, scratching. If there’s mindfulness, we’re safe.
Mindfulness is so important. The Buddha taught that mindfulness and clear comprehension (sampajañña) are vital. Our loyal assistants. Clear comprehension is elementary wisdom that allows us to know what we’re supposed to do, what to do now, and what’s appropriate for us. Once we know, we won’t get lost doing the wrong things. So we know that the things that are essential to lead us to freedom from suffering, to nirvana, are samatha and vipassana practice. These two things are meaningful and of utmost usefulness. We have to be even smarter than that. Samatha is good and useful, but what kind of samatha is and appropriate for us, when we’re going to practice? Knowing that, we’re smart, and have clear comprehension (sampajañña). When practicing vipassana, what meditation object should we use? We need to know, and observe ourselves.
When I studied with Luang Pu Dune, I told him I’d like to practice and he didn’t say anything. He sat, closed his eyes quietly for almost an hour and then opened his eyes and taught me. He teaches each person differently. He taught me to watch my mind directly. Luang Pu Dune had a very special talent, and also had the time. He could study a person for almost an hour and tell us what object to use or what practice to do. If we follow his instructions then we’ll progress rapidly. If we’re stubborn and do other things, then it doesn’t matter how long, we won’t get results.
Luang Pu Dune is the only teacher I ever saw that could do this. The others would teach according to the way they themselves had succeeded in the practice. These days, we don’t have a master to sit and study us for long periods of time. I have far too many students – hundreds – that come at one time, so I can’t spend a long time with each one. So, instead I try to teach the principles of the practice for us, like what type of meditation object to choose for samatha. We have to observe what type of object, when we’re aware of it, makes our mind happy. We choose that type of object. We have to see for ourselves.
There are many types of samatha objects. There can be conceptual objects, like reciting words or phrases. Or, like contemplating the hair, body hair, nails, teeth and skin. These are conceptual, where we use thinking. Being mindful of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Contemplating mortality and death. They’re all about thinking. Contemplating morality, the precepts we’ve kept well, like if we kept the five precepts for an entire rains retreat, and haven’t drank alcohol. When we reflect on it afterwards, we’re happy and satisfied with ourselves. It’ll help our concentration. So we can use conceptual or thought objects.
We can use mind objects. Watching the mind can be a samatha practice. Watching the body can be a samatha practice. Using nirvana can be a samatha practice, exclusively for those who have seen nirvana. Non-enlightened beings can’t do that. So if we’re an ordinary person, we can’t choose that one.
The objects we can use as an ordinary person are conceptual, like thoughts, or using physical or mental objects, like watching the rising and falling of the abdomen or the breath. The breath is a form, so we can use it for peacefulness, or we can watch happy, unhappy, good and bad mental states. Watching the mind as a samatha practice. We can use that for samatha.
So we need to have the wisdom to evaluate ourselves and see which meditation objects we’re happy with. I wasn’t so special, but I had a lot of merit when I was a child. The first master I went to was Than Por Lee, and I learned to breathe in, “Bud”, and breathe out “dho”, from him. When I did this practice, I felt happy. It was the correct practice for my temperament. Breathing in, “Bud”, and breathing out, “dho”, made me happy. I still do it everyday before bed. I breathe in, “Bud”, and breathe out, “dho”, continuously. Sometimes I don’t sleep. In the morning the mind is luminous and peaceful. Then I get sleepy during the afternoon!
So let’s evaluate ourselves. When people hear that I breathe in, “Bud”, and breathe out. “dho”, they want to copy what I did. But some people practice that, and are uncomfortable and get irritated. So don’t do it in that case. It’s not appropriate for us. Choose whatever object makes our mind happy. These days, no one is going to find our object for us so let’s find it ourselves.
Some may give us an object but they may be deceiving us. There are a lot of deceitful people these days. Let’s be careful. Yesterday someone told me, there was someone who likes to meditate but it’s incorrect meditation. They see things outside of themselves and then approach people and tell them what they should do or practice. They may be right, or they might be wrong. They do it to get faithful followers. They have bad intentions, based in wrong view. It’s not right. Some were at this temple and I had to send them away. I couldn’t allow them to teach or approach people here because they were guessing and getting people attached to them.
The Buddha taught us to rely on ourselves and not on others that tell us what our mind is like. Mindfulness won’t arise for us like that. Mindfulness arises when our mind precisely recollects objects on its own. Like, if we’re easily irritated, then we watch the mind get irritated, often. When irritation arises, eventually, mindfulness will arise on its own. We have to do it ourselves, not have others tell us. So it’s deceitful, achieves followers and leads them astray. The teacher benefits, gets food and things, but eating that food is like eating hot coals. It’s like eating hot iron and being burned from the inside each day. Ingesting harsh things and then as they approach death, they feel tortured and then lose their sanity. No one can save them at this point.
So let’s try to train and not deceive ourselves or deceive others. Let’s observe ourselves. When we hear that I’ve practised mindfulness of the breath, that doesn’t mean that we have to follow suit. Observe yourself. For example, some people love the Buddha very much. If they think about the Buddha and his wholesome qualities, they feel happy. That can be used for samatha. Or we think of a good person, like the previous king of Thailand. The ninth king was a good man for so many years. For 70 years as king, he helped the country. We can think of his goodness and how he helped to develop the country, reached rural areas, helped the poor, and improved the water systems in Thailand. If we think of his goodness and feel happy, we can develop samatha states. Or how about Luangpor Poon? Do you remember him, and how he’d sit crouching and use harsh words? Some people think of him and it puts them in a good mood. If so, then think of him. We feel happy and gain the first type of samadhi, the type where the mind happily stays with an object. It’s calmness and peaceful samadhi. So let’s observe ourselves and see what object makes us happy when we’re with it.
In the past when I was invited to different events, some I attended reluctantly and others I attended energetically. The reluctant ones were usually weddings. A friend or relative was getting married and invited me. That was a drag. So deluded, sitting in the middle of a big delusion. I didn’t want to go. It wouldn’t be happy for me.
I’d be joyful at funerals. I wasn’t crazy – seeing dead people didn’t make me happy. But, by going to funerals, my mind better understood the truth about life. At funerals the mind isn’t scattered. We contemplate that this person has died and it won’t be long until I too will die. Contemplating in this way, the mind can be happy and calm. That’s called mortality contemplation, or mindfulness of death. So, choose for yourself what works. Some people say they’re happy when they insult others. That’s not acceptable! That’s a happiness that’s coupled with punishment, so it’s no good. Choose an object that the Buddha instructed, regarding the 40 suggested samatha objects. Go ask Master Google. Master Google will be happy to answer for you! Take a look and see what’s suitable for us, which object makes us happy. As soon as there’s happiness, there will be concentration.
There was once a lady who submitted her homework to me. She would hear me talk about breathing in, “Bud”, and breathing out, “dho”, but she wasn’t happy with it. Repeating, “Buddho”, didn’t make her happy, chanting didn’t make her happy. Then she tried a chant that praises Quan Yin. It’s in Chinese, “Namo”- something… (indistinct Chinese). Her mind liked it. So she asked me, “Can I use the Quan Yin chant, reciting it?”. I said yes because the mind liked it. When the mind is happy with an object then it won’t stray elsewhere. It’ll be calm and happy and will achieve samatha.
So we need to have this wisdom, this clear comprehension of which samatha object we should use and then use it when it’s appropriate to practice samatha. We do it then. Vipassana is similar. We have to look at what we’re skilled at. If we’re skilled at watching the body, watching feelings, or the mind, we have to choose and observe the objects that promote quick and alert mindfulness. Then the mind is the stable observer and strong in mindfulness. Mental states arise and we see them immediately.
When I first went to learn from Luang Pu Dune, he closed his eyes for almost an hour. Then when he taught me, he didn’t teach me samatha. I’d already practised samatha since I was a child, as Luang Por Lee taught it to me. Luang Pu Dune taught me to observe the mind directly. The practice he taught me was to watch the mind. But that doesn’t mean that we all need to watch the mind like I did. What’s important is to see for ourselves what helps us to see the three characteristics.
If we watch the body and see the three characteristics then use the body. If we know the feelings and see the three characteristics easily, then know the feelings. If seeing the wholesome and unwholesome mind states helps us see the three characteristics easily, then choose that. So evaluate yourself. Some people say they can’t effectively observe the mind. Then watch the body. See the body stand, walk, sit and lie down, and the mind is the watcher. See the body breathing and the mind is the watcher. See the body moving and being still and the mind is the watcher. Keep watching and you’ll see that the body is impermanent. It’s moving and changing all the time. One moment it’s breathing in and then next moment it’s breathing out. The next moment there’s standing, then walking, then sitting, then lying down. Then there’s movements: moving the hand, moving the toes, turning the head, blinking, opening the mouth, fiddling and shifting.
So we have mindfulness noticing the movement of the body with the stable observer. The mind and the body are two distinct things. The body moves and the mind is the watcher. That’s practising vipassana. When we do it, we see that the body is impermanent. Why is it impermanent? Why must it move all the time? Because it’s oppressed by suffering. Is that true or not? No need to ask me. Just see for yourself: is the body oppressed by suffering all the time or not? Breathe in and don’t breathe out. Is that happy or suffering? Breathe out without ever breathing in. Is that happy or suffering. Sit completely still all day. Is that happy or suffering? You can buy a chair worth 100,00 Baht but if you sit there in it all day, are you happy or suffering? After a little while we’ll have to move because our body’s suffering. We’ll have to move to run away from it.
So keep knowing within this body and you’ll see the truth of it, that it’s riddled with impermanence, moving all the time. Why must it move? Because it’s suffering. Suffering is oppressing the body all the time. If we observe the body, we’ll see that it isn’t us. It’s just a mass of elements. It belongs to the world and we’ll have to return it to the world one day. When I’d go to funerals, I’d see with wisdom within my own body that in not too long, this body will be just like the one in the coffin. The body must return to the world. It’s the property of the world, not of ours. This is called seeing non-self. So, have a look at ourselves and see if we’re noticing impermanence, suffering or non-self of the body then let’s observer the body. Whatever it is that shows us the three characteristics is what we choose.
Some people can’t watch the body and they watch the feelings. There are two types of feelings, bodily feelings and mental feelings. We can use the bodily feelings only if we have strong meditation. Jhana would be best. When we exit Jhana, we can see the sensations in the body. But Jhana experts are hard to find. Watching the physical sensations without Jhana is a difficult feat. We can’t handle the pain. In the old days, a master told me that once decided to sit in a “kleh”. Who doesn’t know what a “kleh” is? Ask Google. I’ll leave the explanation for now.
Anyway, he chose to sit in a “kleh” and not move all night. The “kleh” was made of bamboo and when he sat there, it was pinching his bottom and it hurt a lot. But, he made the resolution so he stayed there all night with the pain until dawn. It was torture. But why was he able to do this? Because his meditative skills were strong. When it was too painful to handle, his mind would move into absorption by itself. It doesn’t hurt in there. When the mind has energetic samadhi, the mind can exit and watch the body and see that the body isn’t anything good or special. He would practice this way. Some masters like to sit in the lotus position. Do we know what that is? The diamond lotus. Who doesn’t know what that is? Some don’t but aren’t raising their hand, afraid I’m going to say to ask Google. It’s like this. And it hurts. Luang Pu Sim would sit that way. When we’d listen to his Dhamma talks, we’d know the way he’d like to sit. He did it, so I did too. He’d teach for an hour so I’d sit that way for an hour. I almost died but I endured it because I made the resolution. If we say we’re going to do it, we have to do it and don’t withdraw.
Once, I brought some friends –not really friends, they were much older than me – colleagues from my government job. I was the second youngest. The rest were close to retirement. We went to Chiang Mai and I invited the group to go to Pa Plong Cave. I climbed up quickly and arrived before the rest. They had closed the entrance but you could see inside. I saw there was a net set up where Luang Pu Sim would regularly sit. I couldn’t see him, where was he? A monk passed by and I asked if Luang Pu Sim was there and he said yes. I asked where he was, and was told he was in the net. I was confused. “He’s in there?” I could see clearly and hear well. If he was in there, why couldn’t I see him?
When the rest of the group finally arrived, Luang Pu Sim came out of the net. He was right there in the net, but I couldn’t see him. Looking with my bare eyes and my inner eye, I couldn’t see him. Couldn’t reach him. When he came out, holding a key and smiling, and told me, “You’re tired from climbing the mountain. Why don’t you have a seat and take a rest?” The rest of the group had just arrived and they were tired too but that didn’t interest him.
He then taught and asked everyone to sit in the full lotus position. About five minutes into his teaching, some people couldn’t handle the pain and changed positions. By the end, there was just me and an older fellow who frequented temples, still sitting in full lotus position. Only two of us could last like that. He taught for a while and then said, “Okay, that’s enough. Nobody has any concentration left.” Then he asked, “How was it, sitting in lotus position?”. The answer was, “My legs hurt! It hurt!”. Then Luang Pu asked, “Your legs said that they hurt?”.
See, he was still teaching. The legs aren’t us. They’ve never complained. The person complaining has never been the legs. The person complaining is the mind. But he didn’t speak directly like that. He just asked a question, “The legs said they hurt?” When I heard him say this, the pain immediately disappeared. The mind was bright and blissful. But the other guy answered, “Oh I’m not lying, it hurt!”. He didn’t understand the teaching. He was still in pain. So if we make a resolution while the teacher is teaching, like, “I’m going to sit in lotus”, and then if he teaches all night long, we have to sit like that all night. So when we make a resolution, let’s not be too harsh or vicious. Choose something within reason for us.
Again, see for yourself what’s the right practice for you. If we don’t honestly achieve deep meditative states, then observing feelings of the body won’t be possible. There’s a teacher named Goenka. He taught mindfulness of the in and out breath before observing the physical sensations. He taught breathing first. If his students don’t achieve deep meditative states by watching the breath, then they won’t be able to handle the pain. They’d go crazy, just sitting there in excruciating pain. We don’t achieve wisdom. What we get is patience, not wisdom. But if we have true meditative states, true samadhi, then we’ll achieve wisdom. The causes and conditions are different. If observing physical pain is too difficult, I recommend observing the mental feelings. No need to enter Jhana for that. Like know, our mind is happy or unhappy. We can just know so.
Now the mind is happy; we know so. Now the mind is unhappy; we know so. If the mind is indifferent, just know so. Keep watching and we’ll see that when happiness arises, we didn’t intend for it. It just arises on its own. When it’s there, we want it to stay longer, but it won’t. It disappears on its own. We can’t control this. This is called non-self. We’re indifferent, and then all of a sudden, happiness arises and then falls away. That’s impermanence. We can see it in that way too. Seeing impermanence suffices.
Seeing non-self works too. But seeing suffering (unsatisfactoriness) is difficult. To see unsatisfactoriness of phenomena, especially the mind itself, Jhana is required. Seeing that, enduring that, can make you crazy because when we practice to the point where the mind spirals back unto itself, back to the knower and releases the world, the knower also reveals itself as suffering itself. Suffering like nothing else in the world. Suffering even more deeply than the body ever could. If the mind isn’t in Jhana, then we’d be driven insane. We couldn’t handle it. If we don’t have strong samadhi, then we bear the suffering of the mind. So because our samadhi isn’t strong enough, we can just see the ordinary feelings of the mind. We don’t have to see the suffering of the knower itself.
Happy, we know so. Unhappy, we know so. Indifferent, we know so. We observe like this. It’s not hard. Or we can observe the mind. If we’re an irritable person, then we can see two minds: the mind that is angry and the mind that isn’t. Because each day, that’s all there is. If we’re a greedy person, then we can see all day long that there are only two minds: the mind that’s greedy and the mind that isn’t. If we’re someone with a wandering mind, who is absent-minded, then choose a meditation object like repeating, “Buddho, buddho”. Without a moment’s notice, the mind goes off to think of something other than “Buddho”, something else. So we can use the mind wandering off as our practice. Using the breath or repeating, “Buddho”, to help us see the mind that goes off, is a little harder. Craving and anger are easier to see. So if we’re easy to anger, with one moment the mind is angry and the next it’s not. We’ll see that anger is impermanent. If the mind gets angry, we can’t prohibit that. The mind’s angry and won’t follow our order to go away.
If we’re sad, if our husband left us and we’re broken hearted, and our friend consoles us, saying, “Oh don’t be sad”, our friend doesn’t practice Dhamma and thinks that consoling can heal the sadness. The truth is, it can’t be ordered. If it’s sad, it’s sad. It’s not a self. We can’t command it. So, observe in this way, if the mind is angry or sad, we can’t control this. This is non-self. So, observe for yourself, from knowing the body, to knowing the feelings or knowing the mind, which one helps us to see the three characteristics most easily. Let’s use that for our vipassana practice. No need to ask me. That’s too hard on me. Help yourself as much as you can.
Keep at it every day and your life will prosper. You’ll have high quality and wholesome mental states that you never had before. Bad or unwholesome states you had before will lessen. All because of Dhamma practice. Whenever we have enough energy to practice vipassana, let’s do it. After practising vipassana just a short time, we’ll run out of energy. Then practice samatha. Switch up like this. Mostly it will be samatha. Then with some energy, we’ll develop a little bit of wisdom, just a little at a time.
But do not look down upon just these small moments of wisdom when the noble path occurs, it takes only one moment for us to move beyond the world. Just a moment. Such a mind happens infrequently. Let the practice accumulate. Have mindfulness and clear comprehension: knowing that now it’s appropriate to practice samatha, and now vipassana is appropriate. When we’re practising samatha, know which object is best to use. When practising vipassana, know which foundation is best to use. That’s called clear comprehension. Then have the mindfulness that knows the object and our mind continuously until we see the three characteristics and our life will improve drastically.
Instead, if we don’t pay attention, we accumulate defilements each day, like the people I mentioned that guess the states of others’ minds, deluding and deceiving others in this temple, looking for money and people giving it to them, for readings and telling fortunes, telling some people, “This person is your karmic adversary. You have to ask them for forgiveness and your practice will improve”. How is it possible that the practice will be better?
Being gullible, we proceed to ask for forgiveness, as this teacher of ours asked instructed us to do, and after doing so, we feel relieved, freed. Once we feel pleased, what will happen? Concentration will happen. Not because we asked for forgiveness from an adversary, but because we are relieved and content.
See, the Buddha’s teachings are comprehensive, with reasons and causes for everything. If our karmic adversary is deep in a hell realm right now, how can we ask them for forgiveness then? Right? People going around telling us this and that, do not believe them. I don’t condemn people for trying to make a living, but let me remind you, if you say you’re my student, don’t forget what the Buddha teaches.
The true karmic adversary of Buddhists is what is called, “Janaka kamma”. This is the karma that caused our birth. That’s our real karmic adversary. It’s what caused us to be born with this appearance, with these genes, that we will live until a specific age and will contract certain specific diseases… that’s our real karmic adversary. Can that be fixed? No, it can’t. We are the heir to our past karmic actions. That’s our real karmic adversary, the one that we’re the effect or result of, and it must be this way.
So what do us Buddhists do? When karma has caused our present situation to be a particular way, we make good karma, better and better karma. The influence of the new karma will decrease the severity of the worse, older karma. These are Buddhists’ principles. Not running around, asking for forgiveness to be set free. That’s nonsense. We don’t know if it’s true or not. Why are all these karmic adversaries humans? Why aren’t they demons? Why aren’t they ghosts? Why aren’t you being told to ask for forgiveness from a ghost? That’s not what I see happening.
What about past life readings, are they real? Everybody seems to have been someone so special in the past. A king. Where’s the reading that you were a street dog with skin disease, starving to death beside a temple? Why are all the readings so extravagant? Because it appeases our defilements. Defilements take us to contemplate their past. So let’s not be naive. Be a proper Buddhist immediately, have mindfulness in the present. That’s the real deal, that doesn’t deceive us. One moment our mind is happy, the next unhappy. One moment it’s good, the next it’s bad. Is that real or not? It’s real, right? There’s no way that will deceive us. Our body has suffering oppressing us all the time. Is that true or not? See no one can take us astray from that, from these truths.
The Buddha’s dhamma is indisputable. Any Dhamma that appears ambiguous doesn’t belong to the Buddha. If it’s ambiguous you’ll have to trust this person and believe that one. The Buddha never taught us to believe people. Even the Buddha himself asked us not to believe him just because he said something. Even the Buddha himself, said not to believe him. We have to prove things in our own experience. So let’s not be at the ready to believe others. That isn’t being smart or a true Buddhist.
So the true tools we require are mindfulness and clear comprehension. Mindfulness is what knows what has arisen in the body and mind. That isn’t ordinary mindfulness. It’s the foundations of mindfulness. Clear comprehension is a type of wisdom that knows what makes sense, what’s suitable for us. Samatha and vipassana, those make sense. What is suitable for me? Mindfulness of the in and out breath for samatha is appropriate. Practising vipassana, I’d watch the mind. Watching continuously, I was then able to observe all phenomena. We start with one of the foundations first. We have to see for ourselves. So practice vipassana, see the three characteristics and if the mind is to scattered, then practice some meditation first. So go and walk the walk, but walk with two legs: have samatha and vipassana. Can we walk with one leg? Well, we can. We can hop along with difficulty. That’s like practising only vipassana. We can get there. It’s difficult and we’ll struggle along but we each have our own way to get there. Observe and evaluate yourself.
That’s enough for today, time for homework. Who has questions?
Student #12: I’d like to ask you to look at my samatha and vipassana so you can give me advice to improve my practice.
Luangpor: Practice some samatha for me to see. Have a seat. And now, vipassana. Your samatha was fine. When we practice vipassana, and know phenomena, we have to be careful about the mind that sinks down towards the phenomena. The mind moving out and out and clinging, getting immersed in the object. The mind has to be separate from the object. The aggregates separate. Especially the consciousness aggregate needs to be a separate observer, watching all the phenomena move and change. But if our mind moves out and sinks into the objects, we don’t have enough energy to our stable samadhi. Let’s know that the mind has moved out. Once we know that the mind has moved then the stable samadhi will happen by itself. So when the mind moves out and we know, let’s repeat that often, and the stable mind will occur. When we have the stable mind, we’ll see that all phenomena are things that are seen or known. They’re impermanent and not our self. That’s vipassana. It isn’t thinking. So for you, you can do samatha practice fine. For vipassana, your mind isn’t stable. When you know phenomena, your mind moves out.
Student #13: These days, I see defilements more often. I see pleasure and displeasure. Can I get some advice.
Luangpor: Your mind isn’t rooted in awareness. It’s diffused out and content there. Can you sense that? No? When you shook your head no, were you able to see that? No, you didn’t know that? Now you nodded your head yes. How about that? Okay. Watch the body. Feel your body continuously and then you’ll see the mind more clearly. Use observing the body first and the mind will have more energy to its samadhi, and you’ll see the mind more clearly. Right now, the mind doesn’t have enough samadhi. It isn’t rooted in awareness. It’s spread out and empty. So feel within this body. Nodding your head? Know so. Breathing? Know so. Can you remember that, doctor?
You’re nodding your head. Last time you nodded your head and you were unaware. Where did you wander off to? Into thinking. Why were you thinking? Because you were listening to me and then you had to think to understand. If we don’t think, we can’t understand. Now the mind is lost in thought again. Can you sense that? See, once you watch the body for a little bit, you’re able to see the mind again. Remember these principles precisely. Keep watching the body and you’ll see the mind clearly. This isn’t my teaching. Luang Pu Suwat said that Luang Pu Mun taught him in that way. I’m not so great. I just remember what the masters taught me.
Student #14: I’m getting more diligent in my practice during the day. Lately, I’m noticing movement in my chest more and more. But I’m not equanimous to this. May I get some advice?
Luangpor: You’re practising well and correctly. Then there’s movement, know there’s movement. Don’t sink down to be with it. If you’re not equanimous, just know so. No need to want to be equanimous. If you’re wanting to be equanimous, just know there’s wanting. It’s called knowing oneself moment to moment. Now the mind went to think. We know it went to think. Just know however the mind is. I’m giving examples for you now. Have you moved to think yet? There.
See in that way. The mind moves to think and we know so. Don’t sit and wait for the mind. Be with the object and we see the movement. You can use that movement at the chest as your object if it’s there all the time. And then the mind moves towards it, know so. When the mind moves out to think, then know so. That’s doable. You’ll develop wisdom. You’ll see that the mind is impermanent. One moment, the mind is seeing. One moment, the mind is listening. Then it’s the mind that’s smelling. Then it’s the mind that’s tasting. Then it’s the mind feeling the body. Then it’s the mind lost in thought, or the mind lost in focusing. Like now, has the mind gotten lost in thought? Yes, you saw that. Nodding, you know that? You forgot about it, right? Why? Because you were observing your mind. The mind can only observe one object at a time. If we’re looking at the mind, we won’t be observing the body. We won’t see it. Now the mind, has it gone to think? Watch in this way. The mind thinks, we know so. Know often.
Student #33: I haven’t spoken with you in years. I thought that I understood the principles of the practice, but it made me careless and not dedicated enough (and repeating question). May I have some of the principles about how to not be careless?
Luangpor: To not be careless we have to consider how unstable our lives are. Suffering can arrive at any time. We can get sick at any time. Death can arrive at any time. Losing what we love and what pleases us can arrive at any time. Think about this and consider it regularly. Our heart will not be careless and will pursue the practice more. When we’re still young, considering death is difficult. But you can consider illness. We’re subject to illness at any time. We could be walking down the street, decide to go to a boxing match and we catch Covid-19 there (as many did here in Thailand). Nothing is certain.
Whatever we do has an asterisk saying that it’s not certain. In this life, nothing is certain. Aging, sickness, death and loss are all right around the corner. Keep considering this. We won’t be careless. We’re careless because we think we’re still not old, not ill, not dying, not experiencing much loss of things we love. We don’t think in this way, then we can be careless. We keep teaching this to the mind and we’ll notice that all the people around us in the world are riddled with impermanence, suffering and non-self. Aging, sickness, death and loss.
From childhood until adulthood. You’re older than 20 now right? Have you experienced loss before? You have. And will there be more loss? Not sure, right? But we’ve seen it already in the past. We’ve had loss and suffering before. We have to teach the mind that we’ll have loss and suffering again. Loss can happen at any time. Keep teaching your mind and it won’t be careless. It’ll be diligent in its practice. We can’t wait until we’re old to practice because we might die before that. Some people intend to practice when they turn 50 and they’ll just learn the principles intellectually now. Thinking in that way is because of sensual desire. We think that after 50, we’ll be able to not be so lost in the senses. When we’re young we don’t want to give up sense pleasure. We don’t want to practice yet. We’re afraid it will be an inconvenience. I’ll tell you something else. When you’re older it’s harder to practice. Hurry up and get the practice going while you’re young.
Student #47: I’ve been practising according to your teachings every day. I practice formally every day. I have mindfulness at times and am lost sometimes during the day. Can I have some direction in how to improve my samadhi in a way that’s suitable for me?
Luangpor: You have a busy mind. Incessant thinker. So pick a meditation object like breathing in, “Bud” and breathing out, “dho”. Busy minds take to that practice. Keep practising that, but not so that you get calm. Breathing in, “Bud” and breathing out, “dho”, and when the mind strays, know so. Know often and you’ll have more samadhi. Your question was to the point: How do I improve samadhi? Because you have a busy mind, samadhi is your problem. So breathe and repeat, “Buddho” and don’t make calmness your objective. It will get calm on its own. If we want to be calm, we won’t get calm.
Student #66: Usually, I practice sitting meditation for about 45 minutes a day. During the day, I continuously watch my mind and body. I notice that I get restless, busy and worry about different problems. This is my first time, and I’m asking for some advice.
Luangpor: A busy mind is just a busy mind. What’s important is knowing what’s happening in the present. Like right now, your mind is heavy and tight. You’re nervous so you’re holding. Know that. Keep knowing the present moment continuously. It’s okay if you’re happy or unhappy or the mind is good or bad, or busy. It doesn’t matter what arises. Just know what’s there. Follow what happens with mindfulness. So your mind just went off to think. Do you know that? When the mind thinks, then know so. I’ve been practising to say instead of “You just went off to think”, to saying, “Did you just go off to think? Has your mind gone off thinking?” I have to change my phrasing to make it sound prettier. And now, have you gone to think? That’s right. Nodding your head, know so. You don’t have enough samadhi. The mind’s still busy.
Student #78: My samadhi is poor. My mind gets busy easily. I fall asleep and it’s busy then too. I feel, when I’m sleeping that my mind is out. When I see defilements arise, I analyze them. Can you kindly provide some advice?
Luangpor: When the mind is analyzing, just know that the mind is busy. That’s the busy mind. Vipassana is seeing. Seeing the body as it is, the mind as it is. If we see a phenomenon and then keep thinking it’s this way and that way, it’s impermanent, it’s suffering, like that, that’s just thinking. The mind is busy. So have the mind be more aware by practising with a meditation object. Any object. Breathing in, “Bud” and breathing out, “dho”, and keep going and when the mind gets lost in thought we’ll know so more quickly. We breathe and repeat, “Buddho”, not so that we don’t get lost in thought. We can get lost in thought. We do this just so that we know that it can happen quickly. That’s all.
When the mind moves this way and that way, notice it regularly. Recite, “Buddho, buddho…”, and when the mind moves this way and jumps to that, then know so and don’t try to fix it. Just keep repeating, “Buddho” and we won’t control our mind. Just know the mind however it is. We’ll be able to know the mind well without getting lost for long periods. We need an object of meditation like, “Buddho” or the breath, and we need to be with it often. Now has the mind gone off to think? Watch in this way. You can do it. The problem now is the mind is too busy, so you need a meditation object and then when the mind moves, know so. It moves, know so. Practice that often. It’s not having an object so the mind stops moving. Then the mind will be stressed, and that doesn’t work. Just moving and knowing, moving and knowing. That’s sufficient.
Student #79: When I close my eyes, my mind goes to focus on the forehead. It makes me happy and I get stuck there. The mind likes this happiness and doesn’t want to move elsewhere. Do I have to fix this? Kindly help me progress.
Luangpor: You have progressed. Your mind looks like it has more energy to it. What else did he ask?
Your mind is attached to happiness. So, the first time the happiness arises, just know there’s happiness. That’s the first thing. When there’s happiness, know there’s happiness. Secondly, when there’s attachment to happiness, know there is that pleasure or clinginess. Then take a look at that feeling of being pleased. Don’t watch the happiness, watch the being pleased with happiness. Then you’ll see that the mind is impermanent. Watch in this way. Don’t just look at happiness. Once there’s happiness, then there’s being pleased with it. Observe the pleased feeling. Notice that it’s arisen. You’ll see that the pleased feeling arises, stays temporarily and then falls away, and the mind is neutral towards it. When the mind is neutral we can know the happiness again. Or it might know other things.
Once we’re neutral, we won’t attach to the happiness and we won’t be following it around all day. We won’t be stuck at the forehead. Can you remember that? First, when there’s happiness, know so.
Second, when it is being pleased, know there’s a pleasant feeling. Happiness comes first and we know it. Then when the pleasant feeling comes up, switch to knowing the pleasant feeling. When we know the feeling pleased, we’ll be neutral. We’ll see the pleasant feeling come and go. We’ll be neutral towards happiness then. Keep practising and you won’t become addicted to happiness. Once you keep practising more than this, you’ll know that happiness isn’t even real. All there is suffering. Happiness is a type of suffering. Happiness comes up. It’s a burden to the mind. We’ll see that happiness isn’t something we can depend on because it’s suffering. Keep practising step by step. At this stage, when there’s happiness, know so. Once there’s a pleasant feeling about the happiness, know that there’s a pleasant feeling. The pleasant feeling will arise and fall for us to see. Practice in that way first and then submit more homework.
Okay. Time to return to your homes. Don’t forget to check out. I don’t mean that you have to leave immediately. I mean that whenever you’re ready, then you can go home. Congregating in a temple, we’re close together. Get used to some of the new rules. Be careful not to have your hands touch the floor or touch signs and things. Keep to these good, clean habits in case that Covid-19 makes an appearance. Because in the world, other countries are really having trouble. Thailand is still good; there’s no second wave. But let’s practice the habits of being careful. Okay, time to go home.
Luangpor Pramote Pamojjo
9 August 2020