By Venerable Mettavihari Bhikkhu
(Translated by Rien Loeffen)
Now is the time that you can listen to the dhamma talk. After you have practiced vipassanā meditation for such a long time, you should experience and see the truth within yourself.
Not with ideas or theories that you read in books. The truth that you should discover or see for yourself is the truth of suffering. The ongoing process of the psycho-physical reality, that there is pain and suffering, and that it's not comfortable.
With your ego, your personal identity, it is not easy to accept this. After many days here you are confronted with yourself, with your attachments, with what belongs to you. And it's not easy to handle, because many times you are so desperate, disappointed and lamenting. Depressions caused by your karma makes you remember many things from your earlier life. Things from the past which are still here with you and keep coming a lot in your meditation practice.
It's important that you recognize that there is karma and that there is a result of karma. It's mostly bad karma that makes you unhappy, but at the same time this is the beginning of your wisdom, the beginning of your freedom.
You have to practice a lot to remove the cause of your suffering, to recognize the suffering and naming and noting it. If you do not name or note your suffering, suffering can overwhelm you, or it can be the cause that you stop the continuation of your mindfulness.
It's very important to look at the feeling. Feeling is very dominant in us all the time. If you cannot master your feeling, you will always suffer.
Enlightenment has nothing to do with feeling. If feeling makes you happy, it's merely an illusion. It can be the illusion of thought, the illusion of perception or the illusion of your ideas that makes you happy, but there is no truth and there is no real happiness. If you want to obtain true happiness in life, you have to stop the feeling. If a feeling makes you happy, that's only a mundane or worldly happiness. To get supramundane happiness you have to go beyond the feeling.
Now we go to your experiences in your meditation here in the retreat. Many times you are confused. You do not feel good. Let's say: you do not know how or why. In fact that is already a result of the practice, but for you, for your ego, you are scared.
You do not like it to be that way, but you let it happen. You keep on practicing because of the continuation of mindfulness here and now. On time and all the time having your recognition on the object.
Also many times you feel good with certain objects that you are aware of. When you begin to see your preferences for something, you have to note that. If you do not note that, you go on with that preference. You let the feeling be because you like it. Your continuation of mindfulness is not there anymore. Then it's just a feeling, a good feeling that you prefer.
Then you're not practicing mindfulness on the four foundations anymore. You have to start always again, because when certain things, like deeper concentration, happen, it makes you happy, it makes you feel good, it makes you enjoy. This is dangerous for vipassanā meditation.
If you have been working hard only because you wanted that, it's not enough. If you want to feel good, you do not have to be here for so long, two or three weeks. You can do that at home. When you amuse yourself with certain things or when you're trying to have a good feeling, you cannot win the stream of life.
What do you have to do? You have to watch your mind, watch your feeling and watch your preferences. If you prefer something, you say: 'No, this is dangerous'. If you don't say that, you lose already.
You always want to get more or you do not want to lose what you have or what you are. When you lose something, everything becomes uncertain. What you have is mixed with fear. When you have a good feeling, at the same time you fear. You're afraid that you are going to lose that good feeling. In fact it seems very foolish for people who practice vipassanā. It's very foolish to have such fear. Note it and name it. This is an object for you to note.
Many times there is another mind-object, that you are delighted, that you're hankering, that you're not free, because you belong to something.
You should belong to nothing. When you belong to something, attachment is there. Desire is there, and consequently following on from that is that you're missing, lamenting, disappointed and sorrowful. You do not meditate for that.
But certain things come a lot. I already mentioned earlier that you have a lot of remembrance of your life. Mostly negative memories, and you want to stop that. When you want to stop your remembering, not wanting to be with something you remember, this is also desire. The desire that you do not want to be with certain things existing in yourself. These things are negative, and you want to run away. You must know that this is a part of your karma and that you cannot run away from your karma.
You must try to recognize for yourself, do I prefer or not prefer what is now existing at this moment, I mean here and now, what is happening all the time.
If you do not prefer to be with your situation here and now, that's real suffering. It makes you very uneasy, very unhappy. You have to note that.
But it's less dangerous than having preferences, because disliking can stop after you note or name. Or when you just let it be, it doesn't matter. You know that it doesn't feel good, but you are not subject to it anymore.
But the preference is dangerous, because you want to stay along with something, with your delusion. You say: 'I'm now fighting for the happiness in my life', but it's not true happiness, it's not guaranteed, this kind of happiness. And it's not free, it's merely a mundane happiness that you prefer.
You must take care that you name and note the very beginning of your preferences, of what you like, what makes you happy. First you say: 'No, I don't come for this'. If you want this, you don't have to come here. Remind yourself that what you want is to go beyond. Not to be with something that you prefer, and not not-to-be with something that you do not prefer. You have to be beyond, what we call lokuttara or above. You have to be above.
You are above if you have a pure consciousness, not mingled with preference or aversion. Then you are already recognizing the state of enlightenment for that moment.
Enlightenment is only possible with the practice of vipassanā. It's not possible with samatha practice because with samatha practice your feeling is very dominant; this makes your ego very strong. Vipassanā practice is different from samatha practice, because there is no feeling in vipassanā practice. Therefore I said to you some days ago, you must now learn to avoid any feeling.
But many times you disapprove of what I am saying: What is Buddhism? What is this teaching of vipassanā, if you do not have any feeling at all, what is going to be with our life?
If you have such questions, then you go back to a mundane state of mind. This is not understanding what vipassanā meditation is. I feel very sad when you have such an understanding. Many times during the interviews, you are disappointed, unhappy, you have pain or whatever, but as a teacher I am happy to hear that, because it's good for vipassanā.
You have to know that Buddha, who first was a prince, renounced, withdrew from the throne and became a wandering monk in order to get enlightenment. After six years of searching, doing many different types of meditation, he could not obtain the enlightenment that he was longing for, until he discovered the four truths in life. To his satisfaction, he realized that his searching for enlightenment was not only for himself, but for all beings. For the wellbeing and enlightenment of all the people. But first he had to experience it himself.
Under a bodhi-tree in Bodh Gaia, on the full moon of the sixth lunar month, he sat in this practice to see, to conquer māra, the devil. There are many kinds of devils around us. Most important are the devils of the five aggregates that we carry. As I said many times already, these devils take you down. You cannot go above. You cannot experience the supramundane state, the state of being beyond, because you carry them.
The māra of the five aggregates and the māra of defilement. These two māra's are very next to us, and they're haunting us all the time. That means, they're haunting us not to be free, and they are fooling us all the time. Making unreal things real, making untrue things to be the truth, but it's just maya, illusion.
Like when you travel on the road on a sunny day, you will see water on the road in the far distance, especially when you are in the desert. You look in the distance, and you see the reflection on the road that you think that's water. You run all the time to get water, but you don't find it.
We are expecting a certain happiness in our life, and we think that we are so near to it that we will get it. We run after it, and run after it, and never obtain real happiness in our life. This is maya or the illusion of the human being.
You cannot except that it is an illusion that we can be happy in this samsāra. There is no real happiness in samsāra. Like there is no water when you drive the car on the road in the desert. What do you expect to get? It's only an illusion. That the sun is contrasting the road makes you believe that there is water, but there is no water.
It's the same with our life. You and I and everybody, we have been searching for happiness in this world for a long time, but we didn't find it yet. Eventually we are going to die. We die with disappointment, with missing. Missing the things that you had in your life. Or fear, fear of death and uncertainty. Where are we working for our whole lives? Is it coming to an end that way? Is that good?
No, that's not good and it doesn't have to be like that.
We are on the track to find everlasting peace and happiness in our life’s with our practice of vipassanā meditation.
First you have to cope with your remembrance of your past. If there's no subject present anymore, if they cannot harm you or they cannot disturb you, you may dare to say that you obtain peace, but you have to work for it. Noting and naming, and those remembrances are not following you. They are māra, and māra cannot follow you anymore then.
And the khandha's that you carry, the aggregates, you can leave them there. You don't bother about feelings like pain. If you die that way, māra cannot follow you. The last māra is the māra of death. Dying is māra, because when you die without accomplishment, when you did not finish yet, you have to go on following the samsaric process.
If you die without fear of death, you will never die, and you will obtain nibbāna. Last time I said that nibbāna is absolute nothingness. Today I want to say: Nibbāna is the path that makes the deathless be, which means 'not dying'.
It's better not to die. We are going to die, but if you are enlightened you are not dying anymore. But as a human being, as a mundane human being we are going to die. Everybody. But when you go beyond, then you do not die.
First we should experience that there is a state of not-being nor death. When you find a way where no death exists, this means that you understand nibbāna.
We are so used to the idea that we were born and that we are going to die and we see a lot of people dying. But not with us. You have to experience death, while you're not dying. Like all the severe pain or the severe unhappiness in this practice. If you can go beyond that feeling, then you're not dying anymore.
If you would die, even when you are not yet perfect enlightened, not even in the state of the streamwinner, but you practice vipassanā, merely recognizing the second vipassanā-ñāna, recognizing the interrelation between nāma and rūpa, it already guarantees for your next life that you are not going to be born in misery, or that you die in misery.
First you must not die in misery if you do not want to be born in misery. If you die in misery you're also automatically born in misery. You have to get rid of your misery.
What you have done in your practice, is more than enough for supporting your ongoing wellbeing in the samsāra at least. For this life it's enough, but it is not a guarantee for your next life, if you are not warming it up or if you do not have the good fortune to do the practice on the four foundations of mindfulness.
It will not be enough until you remove the belief in the self, until you can deny self when you are in the state of the streamwinner. Then you cannot get into misery anymore, because self doesn't exist anymore.
I am so happy to see that you work hard here. Sometimes I feel pity that you work so hard, while you still do not know what you are working for. I don't want you to expect a lot eventually, but I want you to see that you are not working for nothing.
Working hard gives you a lot of reward. That you will be free from self. That you will be free from being haunted by your personal entity with every noting or naming you put on the contact of the senses, the six senses.
When you have sīla it guarantees for your happiness, it guarantees for your wealth, it guarantees for your everlasting peace in nibbāna. Sīla is very important. When your senses are well refrained or proper regarded, nothing can be wrong. So why do you worry? All these days you try to refrain the sense-contacts. You note at the sense-contact.
Seeing, you note 'seeing'. Every time you note 'seeing', you do not see good or bad, but you see merely seeing. When you see without noting, you automatically go on with your program of recognizing: 'Oh, This I like and this I dislike'. That is mundane. So when you just note 'seeing', 'seeing', you are already beyond something you like or something you dislike. Lokuttara is there. It's always near to you.
The same with hearing. You note 'hearing', 'hearing', and you are already beyond that you prefer or not prefer. You see merely the process of hearing. What you hear or what you see is nothing more than something you prefer or something you do not prefer.
With the nose: smelling, with the tongue: contacting the food. You have to realize that every time when you go to the dining room, you have the opportunity to practice that you are not getting in the process of preference or aversion, that you have the opportunity to go beyond.
Eating: you're enlightened; drinking: you're enlightened when you do it good. Sitting hard or dealing with the weather, cold or hot, makes you enlightened. When you're thinking, you note: 'mind-contact with thinkable object'.
When you note, you are enlightened. When you do not note, you go to what you like, or to what you like to think about.
The ongoing continuation of mindfulness on the sense-contact makes you go beyond. Then you will recognize what is lokuttara. This means above the mundane consciousness. This lokuttara is not recording karma. An enlightened mind has no karma. There is nothing that can follow you anymore.
It's good to see that something is following you. If you recognize a lot what's coming after you, what you have been, that's very good.
In fact that's your teacher. Not to commit the karma's again, not to let the karma's occur again. To let them free, but not let them follow you too hard, by noting and naming.
Some meditators argue: 'Oh, why do we have to note, why do we have to name? I'm just aware, isn't that enough’?
We have three kinds of feeling: feeling of happiness, feeling of unhappiness and neutral feeling, what means neither happiness nor unhappiness, but there is still feeling and in that feeling you belong.
Awareness is self. You are aware and your awareness makes you belong to something. You should stop your awareness to make you not belong to something. If you're aware of nothing, then you do not belong to something.
Then when you are aware of nothing, but you're aware of that, you're aware of what's beyond the whole process of samsāra. That can be done with noting or naming. The act of noting and naming is very powerful, to make you lose the mundane sense, and to be with the supramundane consciousness.
That's how wonderful vipassanā is. I am not making propaganda, but I want you to see. Buddha, when he sat under the bodhi-tree, he practiced this. He discovered the cause of suffering. He knew that life is suffering, and we know that too, but we do not know the cause.
The real cause comes with the feeling. Every feeling of the sense-contact is leading us to the mundane process every time, but when you note and when you name, the sense-contact is going up to lokuttara, above the mundane.
The Buddha practiced this many times, to be very sure. And so he became convinced, and then he announced that he was teasing māra: 'You can not follow anymore.'
He said: 'Before, where I went, you followed, but now you cannot even find my footprint.' Enlightenment has no footprint for māra to follow, because it is not in the mundane world.
In the mundane world, in this mundane process, where you go you leave your footprint, you leave your things there, and then they follow you. If you don't want them to follow, you must not leave your footprint, not make a step.
The contact of the senses are your footprints. When you note on that contact, you'll come above, then you don't leave a footprint. Then māra will not follow you.