By Ven. Ajahn Sanong Katapunyo
The word Oneness
means stability, permanence, straightforwardness, and serenity.
Our mind is constantly affected by confusion, agitation and the changes that always take place. As life is not always smooth, sometimes we experience success and sometimes failure.
If we study the oneness of our mind, we will find that the main reasons why everything can affect us are infirmity of mind and a lack of one-pointedness.
This book of teachings of Venerable Ajahn Sanong Katapunyo has been translated from Thai by Fuengsin Trafford and Simon Romer
May all the benefit from this book be yours.
The Organising Committee
Mind is important
mind training we discover whether or not our mind is peaceful. To practise
meditation (Bhavana) correctly we must only be aware of the state of our own
mind and not be concerned about other matters. In order to obtain peace and
tranquillity, we need to observe how thoughts can continuously create impulses
and emotions. So we can say that mind is very important.
If we know our own mind there is nothing left to know. Dukkha (suffering) and Sukha (happiness) are within our own minds. Depending on this contemplation, we understand the Dhamma and our own feelings and what kind of Arammana (emotions) or tendencies we have.
Though our body is peaceful, our mind is not. There are thoughts, impulses and emotions. We have to train the mind until it gets used to peace. If the mind becomes accustomed to peace, it will yearn for it more and more.
For this reason we must keep on training our mind until it attaches to peace and calms down as soon as we begin to practise. In taming the mind we need to be skilful in our resolution (Adhitthana) (to achieve the goal), in our recollection (of the object of the meditation) and in our entering and coming out of Samadhi (concentration). This will be very useful.
The rope to tie the monkey
Our mind is like mercury. It is also like a monkey who is struggling all the time to free himself. When he is pulled back, he may stay still for a little while, but a moment later, he will try to move away again.
We will need to pull back and control our mind frequently, otherwise it will not remain still and it will wander away according to its emotions. The mind will follow whatever arises in it when there is nothing to discipline and tie it down. We must have mental training to stop its wandering.
So meditation is the tool to tie up ones mind. It will cultivate mindfulness which is the foundation of the practice. Samadhi stills the mind and reduces impulses and emotions. It's the same as tying the rope around a post and then tying the monkey to it.
It does not matter how much the monkey struggles, he will have to stay within the limits of his bounds. As he is tied with the rope, he can only go back to the same spot again. The only chance for him to stop is when he is exhausted.
When we follow the movement of our mind, it is like watching the monkey. We do not have to become the animal, we just sit and watch him. Stay still, do not struggle like him. If we struggle like him, we will turn into a monkey and will become really exhausted.
To practise Samadhi is like looking at the monkey. In the process of watching, he will go round and round until the rope is so tight that he is bound up. In the end he will have to stop and sit still.
The monkey also knows that it is time to stop when the rope is so tight that it strangles him. The movement of our mind is very similar, so if we keep on meditating in order to observe it (the mind), then it is like watching the monkey without behaving like him.
If we act like him by creating thoughts, we will be exhausted by our meditation because the mind never stops. We have to be in control at the post where Sati (mindfulness) and Samadhi are. Fix attention on body and mind. Peace will occur. Wherever the mind wanders it will return. The moment we are quick enough to be aware of thoughts when they start to form, the mind will come back to where it started. It is as though we have passed the Examination for mastering our own mind.
Once the mind is let loose, there will be no stopping it
Some people cannot stop thinking at all and they do not know what to do. When they let their mind wander, it never stops. They have never trained their mind. Thoughts will arise continuously and there is no way of getting rid of them.
If we have already trained our mind, we will stand a better chance of stopping those thoughts. Therefore Samathabhavana (Concentration development) brings peace and Vipassana meditation (meditation of Insight) brings wisdom.
To understand one's mind and emotions leads to detachment from them. Wisdom which follows will make us penetrate through the length and depth of the mind and when a vision of Truth appears, we will experience the purity of our mind.
Just learning how to concentrate will lead to all understanding. According to the Buddha's teaching to only know one's mind is enough.
Knowing other things will not bring peace: suffering will still be with us. Only experiencing the peaceful mind can bring cessation of suffering. To know the right thing is meritorious. Both Heaven and Nibbana are within the peaceful mind.
So in order to study a religion, we must start from the mind. If the mind is peaceful, whatever we read will be effective, whatever we listen to will be clearly comprehended. The Buddha's teaching of the Dhamma will be understood in great detail.
Whatever we hear from someone, we will understand because our mind is clear. Moreover, we will take delight in the Dhamma and take it to our heart. People whose mind is not peaceful do not like the Dhamma and incline towards restlessness. With their preoccupations to know about other people's business, they do not want to know themselves.
To be peaceful involves the desire to know oneself, to examine oneself. We make a lot of effort to view our own mind because we value peace as a good thing which brings us happiness.
To study a religion is to study the mind
a religion is to study the mind. The Buddha did not teach many things. When he
taught the 5 ascetics, he told them to contemplate the body and its 32 organs
and to analyse all its elements.
The Buddha also pointed out to them that the body was born from cooked rice, fresh cakes, nuts, sesame, butter, earth, water, fire and wind. All these factors were analysed by him. The next step was to view the body clearly, so clearly that they could see that the body starts to decay and eventually disintegrates. As the result, they would have Samadhi as an object of consciousness which consisted of applied thought, sustained thought, joy, bliss, and one-pointedness of mind.
He continued to elaborate on the Cause of Suffering (samudaya). Suffering takes place from citta (mind) and Vinnana (consciousness). Craving can be stopped by having sharp awareness. At first this teaching was for the 5 ascetics. Later on Ananda and Sariputta (two of the chief disciples) were taught the same thing. Ordinary people were also taught the same thing.
Making one's mind the temple
Buddha was alive there was no chanting, no ritual and ceremony, only
meditation. There was no Uposatha (consecrated assembly hall), Sala (pavilion),
Kuti (living hall for monks), or Vihara (shrine hall). Though there were 3000
monks, there was still no temple. Those monks lived and practised under trees, in
caves, and in the forest. Three thousand monks is a great number compared with
less than 1000 at Wat Sanghathan. Even a congregation of 200 lay people is
considered quite a number nowadays.
In the early days of the Order monks lived close to nature. The ordination did not require an Uposatha, only the Buddha's mere utterance, "Ehi Bhikkhu Upasampada" ("Come, Monks!, well taught is the doctrine; lead the Holy Life to make a complete end of suffering.") With these words the Buddha conferred the ordination.
Those lay men automatically became monks. Thousands of them were ordained at the same time.
Those monks knew all about the Dhamma and could teach 'Panja kammathana' (The five meditation exercises): namely, the hair on the head, the hair on the body, the nails, the teeth and the skin. They became preceptors and teachers in different countries.
As they knew how to meditate, Buddhism became very prosperous during that time. Eight years after his Enlightenment, the Buddha did not have a temple. When he went to Rajagaha, King Bimbisara offered him the first temple with Sala, Kuti and Vihara. There was no record about building an Uposatha. There was no building of an Uposatha, no ceremony of lifting the roof spiral during the Buddha's time. Building the Vihara, Kuti, well and road were considered meritorious deeds.
The idea that one gained merit from building the Uposatha might have started after the Sukhothai or Ayudhaya periods, while building the Vihara was considered the important thing before. Nowadays the Vihara does not have the same significance because it is just a place for keeping Buddha images and the Tepitaka (Scriptures). In the early period, it was the place where monks used to take precepts and meditate, and were diligent. So when he was alive, the Buddha showed his followers where the temple was - in his own mind.
Touching only the bark
a teaching about understanding the relationship between the body, speech and
mind. It is easy for a person to do good or evil by using the body with an
armspan in length and 25 cm. in width. Through mental volition, one acts
through body and speech.
In the past it was easy to get close to monks and religion. All the temple goers practised and understood meditation, the 5 precepts, that which is evil and that which is meritorious. Though they were illiterate, they were all intelligent because they were very knowledgeable about Buddhism and skilful in training their mind. Therefore if we revive our practice, we will really begin to understand Buddhism as a religion.
We usually take the temple as the refuge for practice. It means we depend on a material thing. In fact the real refuge is meditation exercise. This meditation is the way which the Buddha taught us to rely on.
If we visit the temple but do not meditate, we will not get close to the religion. It is as though we touch the bark but not the core. The aim is to get to the core, and to touch the core of religion we must meditate.
Attachment to outer merit
general attach more to and wish to gain more of outer merit rather than inner
merit. In reality inner merit is the way to Salvation.
Making merit by having mindfulness, concentration and wisdom requires no investment. We should cultivate this state of mind when we take 5 or 8 precepts and when we meditate. It is like an investment of training one's mind for the Magga (the Path) in order to gain the result.
During the Buddha's time, everything was easy. It was easy to be ordained. Only two robes were required. Later on three were allowed. Wherever they went, the monks only had those with them.
It was also easy for the lay followers. They did not have to take anything when they visited the temple. Being poor did not stop them. If they did not have flowers, incense and candles, they used their body, speech and mind to represent those things. We can do the same thing because the main reason we go there is to train our mind.
Worship with Practice
some people who visit monks are worried when they have nothing to give them.
They fear the monks' criticism. As a result they have to keep on buying things
for them. So it becomes an offering of worship. In the end the monks will form
an attachment to material things.
If we go to the temple to practise in order to train our mind, that is the real Puja (worship) which gets close to the Triple Gem. This is considered to gain the highest merit.
Flowers, incense and candles are used for Puja with material things, not with the practice which the Buddha valued. So if we have nothing to offer we can still practise.
The person who is going to be ordained takes 5 or 8 precepts. After his ordination he becomes a monk and worships with practice. One who prostrates himself or herself in front of an image of the Buddha, offering rice, water and other articles with fragrance, who at the same time makes outer merit, is worshipping with material things. That person has not yet reached the higher level of practice, so it is not possible to get close to the Buddha.
To get close to the Buddha one must make a sacrifice of material things, but we should not put too much emphasis on these. Instead one should start to practise to train the mind to fight against thoughts, negative emotions and defilements. This can be called "Reaching the Core" which is worship with practice. If we achieve both types of worship, Joy will arise within our heart.
Some people cling to worship with materials and do not know how to practice. They will achieve nothing. They must do both. Consequently they will experience Joy and perfect Samadhi. This can be called 'not using up old merit.'
Old Merit, New Accumulation
give Dana (alms) and take precepts, we do not use up our old merit. Our Parami
(Perfections), accumulated in past lives, enable us to take rebirth as human beings
in a Buddhist environment and to find the Triple Gems. As a result we try to
practise the Dhamma every day.
The daily meditation with which we persevere is new merit. Chanting, worshipping the Buddha, and giving Dana are considered the new merit which will bear fruit in future.
The Punya (old merit) created the human form, complete with mindfulness and wisdom. During our lifetime we practise the Dhamma. It means that the result of the old merit brings about our contact with the Triple Gems and the new merit is gained by the continuation of practice.
Our effort to practise day and night can be thought of as the new merit of this life. Both sorrow and joy which are the results of kamma in this life also belong to new merit. After a long period of practice, it will become an inner treasure, called "The Sublime Treasure", which fills the mind and later turns in to precepts, concentration, the Path and the Phala (Fruitions).
If the mind is not yet full, the merit can be collected to bear fruit for subsequent lives.
If the effort and patience are strong enough and the Perfections accumulated in this life are fulfilled to the highest level, we will be spontaneously enlightened. If we have not done enough, we can go on collecting them for the future. Suppose a person has completed his Perfection for the period of one Asankheyya (which is incalculable) and 100,000 kalpas (aeons); it means that he has taken rebirth and meditated 1 million times or 2 million hours. When he has completed all of this, he will be enlightened automatically. For people who have not reached the Goal in this life it is as if, perhaps, they have not meditated these 1 million times, perhaps only half that number. They can save this half as the Sublime Treasure for the future. If they continue to meditate, once they have done 1 million meditations, they will immediately become an Arahat.
When meditation is not up to standard when we are not successful, it means that our meditation is not up to standard. It is not perfect as we have not experienced peace and do not have enough patience or diligence. If these qualities have not been fully attained, we will not gain freedom. Nevertheless we can still accumulate the Perfections for our future lives.
The merit of our past lives gave us Rebirth as human beings in a Buddhist land, the land of the Dhamma. As people are different from one another, some are more careful than others, and some have more mindfulness and wisdom.
All of us, however, possess a certain amount of merit and Perfections, no matter what kind of merit it may be. It depends on the amount of meditation which we have done. If we have not "entered the stream", but are only half way, we are still accumulating merit. We have to persevere to complete our accumulations in order to be enlightened.
Training one's mind with services
have real understanding, we will be confident about chanting and worshipping
the Triple Gem (the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha) which makes our body,
speech and mind peaceful. As all these are meritorious deeds, they are the ways
to accumulate the Perfections.
Material things are made in order to remind us of the wholesome. To think about Uposatha, Sala, Kuti and Vihara creates wholesome states of mind. We recollect our reasons for renunciation. It is as if our mind becomes free from confusion about other matters as it is absorbed in the result of our work, our giving Dana and our Sila (Morality).
When our mind is more closely involved with these practices, we acquire a high degree of energy. Mental strength increases and more practices will follow. The mind is more peaceful resulting in the discovery of Enlightenment.
No virtue done, no wholesome state of mind experienced
People who have not previously accumulated any merit will neither be kind, nor take delight in the teaching of the Buddha. They will not appreciate peace or value it and will not value the path of virtue (kusala). They will automatically misunderstand all of these.
Misunderstanding about the Buddha, The Dhamma, The Sangha and the Religion shows that they have not accumulated any merit in their previous lives. No one can persuade them to take precepts or meditate as they cannot see what good will come of these activities. They cannot practise and are not contented when they are doing it. In the end they will never get close to the Triple Gem.
On the other hand, when people have accomplished the Perfections, they will appreciate all these good deeds. Their mind will be attracted to them according to the law of Kamma.
This type of people will not only be satisfied with their own virtue, they will want to do more and more of it. They are happy with this way of life. On the other hand, they will be unhappy to do evil. People who have not stored any merit are the other way round. The thought of staying at the temple for one night fills them with horror when they exclaim, "My goodness! What suffering! How hard!"
People who are able to stay there will exclaim with delight, "Oh! How pleasant this place is! How uplifting! It is like heaven on earth. The mind is full of clarity and relief. All ones activities such as eating, walking, sitting and lying down do not affect their moods. These are the result of their own merit. Not everybody is the same because our minds are very different. People who cannot penetrate the essence of the Dhamma are incapable of realizing it.
When Ananda (one of the Buddha's chief disciples) listened to the Buddha's discourse, he was enchanted and uttered these sentences: "Lord, your Dhamma is so beautiful, so moving that it has touched the core of beings." The Buddha replied, " Do not say so because not everybody is at the same level as you. There are many who will not be moved. Some will not believe in the teaching and some will not understand its meaning. As you have wisdom, faith, energy and also are a Sotapanna (a Stream enterer), you have deep understanding about the Dhamma whether it is the Five Khandhas (aggregates) or Rupa Nama (matter and mind)."
People who start to go to the temple in their old age will find happiness in their advancing years. In the Vessantara, Jataka Chuchok had, in his previous life, decided to make merit in his old age. As the result, he gained happiness in the life after as he was growing old. How did Amittada make merit in her past life? She offered a fading flower to the Buddha. The result of the kamma made her marry Chuchok who was an ugly old man.
Usually people want everything but sacrifice nothing. They do not want to discipline their minds and are accustomed to thinking and recollecting continuously. They will always be trapped by their old emotions. When will they be free? If we want to acquire new and wholesome states of mind, we must begin to do meritorious deeds.
One who wants to enter the state of Nibbana, must make a resolution. Do not believe any scholar who says that anyone who makes a wish has Tanha (craving) and Kilesa (defilement). After making merit, craving is still there. Both Sariputta and Moggallana (two of the Buddha's chief disciples) made a resolution to enter the state of Nibbana in which a Buddha presided.
Even the Buddha himself wished to enter Nibbana, to become a Buddha. If he did not do so, there would be no goal. When we travel by car or on a boat, there must be a destination.
In the same way, making merit requires a goal. Therefore one must make a wish to be free from Suffering and to enter Nibbana, which is the destination. To wish to be free from Suffering is the desire to get rid of defilement and craving. Once we realize Nibbana, defilement and craving will be eliminated.
If there is no wish, we will not know which way to go. Some people say that they do not want anything, just to make merit in order to finish the stored merit and also to finish the misdeeds which they have done. Those people talk without any principle.
If they have a principle, they must stick to it. We practise in order to follow the way to happiness; to enter that Path of bliss where there are human treasures, heavenly treasures and Nibbanic treasures. This wish is the energy which will send us to our destination. So every time we meditate we have to make a wish that our practice may lead us beyond suffering and finally to Nibbana.
To wish is the creation of Parami
wish to do good, a result will come out of it. So
wishing is also called a Parami. It is the creation of Parami.
Everybody must have 10 Parami: Generosity, Morality, Renunciation, Wisdom, Energy, Patience, Truthfulness, Resolution, Compassion and Equanimity.
When we meditate all night here at the temple, it is a Perfection. We gain Truthfulness and Patience, and a high level of endurance. We need to be very patient. From all of this effort, comes energy.
So Energy, Patience, Truthfulness and Wisdom are cultivated. Compassion is the compassion towards oneself, to help oneself to gain both bliss and peace.
To have a motivation to sit (and meditate) all night and become more and more peaceful is 'Resolution'. To try to stop chatting, having one meal a day, having less sleep with impartiality are both Resolution and Equanimity.
So we can say that the 10 Perfections can be gained within one night. All these Perfections will become the energy to strengthen us to approach the Truth which will become the Path and Fruition.
meditate and to learn about meditation, we must first study our own mind. When
we know what it is like when the mind is peaceful, we will begin to know the
way to practice. If the mind is not concentrated, uncertainty will arise. There
will be no way of telling us how to practice the Dhamma correctly. Doubt will
arise concerning our observances and practices.
If we have concentration, doubt will disappear. We will be decisive and assured. Here we are! This is peace ... This kind of practice leads to peace ... This is not the way to peace ... This mental training leads to tranquility ... This one leads to Insight ... We begin to learn about our emotions and our mind.
If we cling to doubt, we cannot make up our mind. During the practice we keep on having sceptical doubt; and as a result, there will not be any concentration. As soon as the mind begins to concentrate, we think about other matters and doubt follows. When the mind begins to attain one-pointedness, joy arises, followed by illumination. We however become too excited and wonder what will happen next. There will be no continuation of concentration, which in turn will create doubt.
Whatever happens, we should be indifferent, whether it is joy or concentration. Keep on meditating with equanimity. Peace will come in the end.
Stick to the same technique
experienced peace during the previous meditation session, we may have the
desire to have the same result again next time. If we cling to that peaceful
moment, it is as though we are still in the same class. We will not make any
progress in Samadhi. So we should have no regrets but continue to
It does not matter whether or not we can gain any peace. Do not dwell on the past experience but determine to start again.
Do not have any desire and think "My word, how peaceful I was on that day! Do not reflect. Just follow the technique of concentration which suits us best. whether it was mindfulness of the breathing, of body or mind. If any technique gives us peace, we should stick to it.
Even when we cannot concentrate after a great deal of effort in our meditation, we develop equanimity towards this too. And then suddenly the mind becomes peaceful with one-pointedness. We have to use this type of practice. Even when our mind is peaceful, we must persevere and at the same time let go. Try to remember the most effective technique for us and follow it.
Holding on to the one principle
If we do
not have a principle to hold on to, it does not matter how long we try to
practise, peace will not arise. Moreover, this can transform us into people
with excessive craving, craving for this technique or that practice.
Eventually, if we become too greedy, we will not achieve anything. Therefore we
should fix attention at one spot to still the mind and make it free.
Any of our 32 organs can be used as meditation devices even the mind itself, if we like this technique. When we observe the mind, we will have real understanding about its nature. If we are peaceful and gain wisdom in this way, we should always follow this technique as different people are suited to different things.
We should stick to the most effective way for us because it will easily lead to the principle of concentration. Then we will not hesitate, doubt or look for too many techniques as it will be all too much for us. Just cling to one principle. Do not be greedy. There is only one point for concentration to arise. When it arises, contemplate the Dhamma which appears in the concentrated mind. It is our development of Equanimity again for the second time.
Not wanting to be free
the training, to gain one-pointedness of mind is difficult, but if we can have
a little bit of peace, it is considered very meritorious and wholesome as our
mind is usually restless. We understand its real nature when we observe that it
is constantly wandering. During the sitting, the mind is not still and is full
of thoughts. So in looking at how the mind works, we can see that Nibbana is a
very long way away.
Nibbana is far away because the mind refuses to be free and still. Therefore we must make a real effort. To free and still our mind, we must meditate frequently until the mind gets used to the training. The mind is simultaneously pulled in two opposite directions. On the one hand, Dhamma will push the mind towards peace. On the other, the mundane will pull it towards restless thoughts, full of turmoil, according to whatever it wants to create.
The mundane pulls the mind and creates craving: to carry more burden, to desire to obtain various things, to become people of different status, to have this and that, to travel here and there, to eat this, to eat that, to speak about different subjects. Craving will pull our heart and we will refuse to stop thinking. Thoughts will keep on flowing, one after another.
The Buddha said, "Samudaya is craving which is never fulfilled. Only The Path, which is knowing one's own mind, which is being aware of craving, will end Suffering." If Suffering is not eliminated, we will give in to our emotions ... and this is Samudaya. If we are quick enough to follow our own mind, it will be the Path of Truth which purifies thoughts, Anusaya and defilements which are buried deep in our emotional nature. This can be called a momentary Nirodha (Extinction of Suffering).
off at your own consciousness, not anywhere else. If we cannot do that, we will
continue to think because this is the nature of mind. From birth to death, we
never stop thinking. This mind has taken rebirths in countless bodies and
aggregates. It has been going on for aeons and this consciousness will always
keep on repeating the process. We have been many beings which we can see now
and know about in the past - human beings, celestial beings ... down to
animals, hungry ghosts, demons and hell beings. No human has
not been through the cycle of Rebirths in the sea of life.
The sea of life is birth and it is full of craving. It's the sea in which we have to go, whether we have our physical form or not. Our consciousness will continue to be reborn there. Usually what happens is; there are impulses and emotions at every thought moment. For example, when we are angry we go down to hell; when we are deluded we become animals. The Buddha could understand the fleeting nature of mind by Samadhi training, and acquired Nana (a vision of Truth). Wisdom will follow once Nana is obtained, and there will be knowledge and understanding about the principle of peace.
Understanding by stilling the mind
world we have to learn to think and use imagination. If we fail to do this we
cannot remember or know anything. On the other hand, we have to learn how to
stop thinking and imagining to have clear memory and realization. If we cannot
stop, we cannot understand anything because Dhamma is to be understood only by
stilling the mind.
For this reason we try to stop thinking. Though we are not very successful, we know that it is very difficult to train the mind. Therefore it is a very valuable experience. Anything that is easy to find has no value. The more difficult it is to find something, the more valuable it becomes. For example, gold is very rare to find. We can spend a whole day looking for a precious thing without finding it.
Our mind is the same. If we penetrate through it and find peace and space from thoughts, even for a moment, it is like digging a whole mountain and discovering a diamond.
Towards Cessation of Suffering
realise the truth the mind has to be trained to stop thinking and being
confused. It is the way to end suffering in our mind. The Buddha taught us to
practise in order to have the principle of life which leads to Cessation of
He has pointed us the way, but whether we will follow him or not depends on our mind. Saddha (faith) is an important factor. If we have Saddha in the principle of the Dhamma, in the Iddhipada (4 Paths of Accomplishment) and the Eightfold Noble Path, we will head towards the same direction.
We will consider releasing ourselves from the turmoil of family life and make efforts towards obtaining peace.
This is exactly what the Buddha contemplated to show us the way to the higher Path - towards Cessation of Suffering.
To Contemplate the way out of Suffering
here to find the way towards peace, to meditate, to take precepts and to
cultivate momentary wisdom. It can be said that we have discovered the
direction which the mind should follow and we are accompanied by faith and
energy. It is clearly the way which will lead us to a peaceful life.
If we do not consider breaking away from craving, searching for this and that and always struggling our state of mind is called 'Contemplation of the journey towards Suffering'. Happiness will certainly never be found this way because the mind is not disciplined.
Therefore when we are taught to train our mind, it means we are abandoning the heated anxiety of worldly life and are developing cool composure instead. So try to train the mind.
To succeed even for a moment, we have to spend a long time sitting in meditation. If we do it for a short period, we will not be able to overcome all the negative emotions. Therefore, long sessions of sitting, walking and contemplation are very necessary. If we can overcome the hindrances by this method of training, we will be satisfied with the inner strength gained from it. This satisfaction will encourage each person accordingly.
There is a saying that merit brings happiness. Happiness arises when we are pleased with our own actions which are conducive to peace. This happiness can only be seen and known by oneself. This realization is the direct experience which uplifts the mind to supramundane states beyond the ordinary world which is always full of affliction and turmoil.
Overcoming through endurance
have faith, effort, determination, peace, knowledge, understanding, and
satisfaction with our past actions, these qualities will bring us strength.
This is called Iddhi (success), and it includes Iddhipada which becomes the
basic force to improve our state of mind.
If we do not have any perseverance, we may not achieve anything. If we have effort alone, but lack any patience, we will not succeed. We must develop patience and determine to sit and fight against Nivarana (hindrances) such as sloth and torpor which will stand in the way of anyone who tries to achieve the Goal.
When we face all these problems and obstacles, we must try to soldier on and exercise our utmost patience. To succeed even for one moment, we have to spend a long time in sitting meditation. If we do it for a short period, we will not be able to overcome all the negative emotions. Therefore, long sessions of sitting, walking and contemplation are very necessary. If we can overcome the hindrances by this method of training, we will be satisfied with the inner strength gained from it. This satisfaction will encourage everyone.
There is a saying that merit brings happiness. It can happen when we are pleased with our own actions which are conducive to peace at all times. It is to be seen and known by oneself only. This realization is the direct experience which uplifts the mind beyond the worlds which are always full of affliction and turmoil.
Perseverance is necessary
want to train our mind for realization of the Dhamma, we have to try to fight
against all forms of obstacles which shatter peace and destroy our wisdom.
Whenever Nivarana appear, they remove our wisdom and any time we make a
resolution, it is undermined.
When we intend to stay up all night or till , as soon as sloth or torpor appear, our mind is automatically affected and weakened by it. Consequently we decide to go to bed. We cannot stay up as planned because the Pa¤eakkhanda (Five Aggregates) cannot stand it any more. This means that we are submerged by the Nivarana, and we will be prevented from achieving the Goal at this point.
During our meditation sessions, our mind becomes very busy with various thoughts, impulses and emotions. It is impossible to know where things start or end. All we know is that all these emotions go on and on. When they get worse, it becomes unbearable for us. So before we give up, we try to persuade ourselves that there is no point in sitting any longer. As a result, peace can never be found, and we also create unskilful actions. It would be best therefore if we did not carry on sitting. Nivarana got the better of us.
Another very common problem for meditators is the fear of their own mind, and the anxiety that they will never master the mind. If only we had a skilful means to see through the whole thing, we would know that it is the hindrance and not our own mind which is the cause of the fear. The hindrance has a trick to dominate us. Each time we meditate and go through the same experience again, we will understand that it is the hindrance which stands in the path of virtue and which persuades us to indulge in the restlessness and turmoil which results in our lack of mindfulness and our uncontrolled emotions which causes confusion to arise each time we sit in meditation.
When we know what happens, we will not be led astray, but will try to cultivate peace and tranquility in the mind. To acquire the composure of the mind, we have to sit for a long period of meditation, and spend a lot of time practising mindfulness during standing, walking, sitting and lying down, becoming aware of body and mind. If we are not discouraged, our mind will begin to concentrate and the confusion within it will calm down and peace will occur. The mind will become concentrated because we can see what the hindrances are up to. So we are not overcome by them when they arise within our mind.
People who surrender to the hindrances will always be losers. Whenever we start to meditate, we are restless and are tempted to give up. Sloth, torpor and laziness discourage us to do good. Physical pain also tortures us. So we stop sitting because we cannot stand all these.
They are the hindrances for which we have no proficiency in means or method to see in which direction they are leading us, because we have never experienced and overcome the hindrances such as sloth, torpor, laziness, restlessness and physical pain; we will always submit to them.
If we are accustomed to lifting our mind to rise above sloth, torpor and restlessness, we will always repeat the performance. This experience will lead to the awareness of hindrances which we will be able to eliminate every time they happen.
The 5 Nivarana
practice the Dhamma, we must understand our moods, be aware of the state of our
own mind, of anything which happens during training sessions, and of what kinds
of emotions take place. We also have to know which one of the 5 Nivarana is our
obstacle. Are we restless? Are we sleepy? Or are we full of sensuality in which
we are contented to indulge and add to our confusion?
Vindictiveness is considered a kind of thought. When we do not sit and meditate, we do not know that it is kind of hindrance, but during the sitting, vindictiveness arises in the mind. Since we have developed an aversion towards the way some people talk and act, we keep on reflecting on them when we meditate. If we lack sharp awareness, we will think that we have no peace at all and then will lose the will- power to sit. It shows that we do not realise that it is the hindrance which has discouraged us.
If we generate loving kindness and try to develop enough mindfulness to overcome that mood, there will be peace and space. That is the nature of mind which is above hindrances.
A Great Fighter
practice, we must study in order to know our own mind - in order to see how
many times in a day we are happy, or unhappy. If we want to understand other
people's minds, we have to look at our own. When we really understand our own
mind, we can understand another's. In every human being there are 3 fires: the
fire of Lobha (greed), the fire of hatred, and the fire of delusion. So we are
not different from one another.
We must observe and contemplate when these defilements arise and boldly fight back and annihilate them. We will then be the victor.
Most people who practice usually are not able to defeat Nivarana. Sloth and torpor and physical pain cannot be endured. Restlessness with no particular cause that we can perceive, which appears to be without end, is even more difficult to put up with. This in turn causes depression and dismay. We will start to think that our accumulated Parami are not enough to give us the staying power for sitting meditation. Devaluing ourselves in this way is a kind of Nivarana, which becomes an obstacle which discourages us from practising to overcome Nivarana.
If we intend to make merit we must do so in our minds with equanimity and detachment. We must train the mind to rise above Nivarana.
The Path of mind is to know one's mind
call the Path can be [described as] the way in which the mind is aware of
constant thought processes. When we suffer from physical pain, restlessness,
anger and vindictiveness, we understand that it is the mind which is
responsible for all these hindrances. The mind which is full of awareness of
difficult moods, influenced by Lobha, aversion and delusion is called "The
knower". This knower represents 'The Path'.
The Path will eliminate Anusaya, wrong views and hindrances. It will become the Path of the Truth leading to Nirodha. Samudhaya will be destroyed by the constant awareness of one's mind, of various thoughts, and of the rising and falling of mind/consciousness. It can be said that by this we are practising to enter Majjima patipada (the
If we have not entered Majjima Patipada, it means that we have not understood ourselves. We are not aware of our thoughts or of their contents, or of whether we have aversion or craving. We are only aware of them after they have happened because we have no Path to direct us, no Morality, Samadhi or Pa¤¤a (Insight). The Eightfold Noble Path cannot be reached by such meditators. Therefore we have to try to train our mind to remain firm so that whenever feelings arise, we will be ready to fight.
To prepare one's mind
If we can
sit in meditation, we can consider ourselves fortunate. If we cannot sit, we
have no means but to lie down to meditate. People who can sit are still
physically strong, but what about the ones who cannot even sit, who are very
weak?! For example, a person who is so ill that death is very near cannot get
up. Sitting up to meditate is impossible because every breath is permeated with
suffering and delusion.
These are the states of mind which we have to consider. When time is available we must quickly sit down to our practice. If we can only do it when lying down, our opportunity has been lost because sensation will dominate us. We will be beaten completely. Moaning of every ache and pain, we suffer terribly ... Why have I not recovered? Why am I in this condition? Why? All these repeated questions have no answer.
The main reasons for suffering are that we have a body and mind; and that there is birth! Thus there is pain and weariness, old age and death. We must always consider these reasons in order to become wise. As long as we possess physical forms, we cannot escape illness.
Good hearing can subsequently deteriorate. At one time one could hear everything clearly, later on all sorts of sounds become very soft. It is like some kind of wind gets into one ear and goes out of the other. Good eyesight weakens and we cannot see as clearly as before. Sometimes we look at one person but see two. Delicious food becomes tasteless. Wherever we used to go and enjoy ourselves, we have no strength for an outing anymore. This is the way things are.
If there is birth, everyone will have to accept this and consider that nothing can put an end to it. Do not grieve, just accept it. Contemplate the arising of suffering and try to understand and see through the whole process with sharp awareness. Do not try to resist or suppress it. Otherwise restlessness will cause more suffering.
Suppose we are taken to the hospital. Do not struggle because the time has come for us to be there. In the past we were not in this condition but it is natural for the body to be affected by illness. No one can forbid it to happen or control it.
Studying Buddhism helps us to release our mind from anxiety, confusion and ignorance of reality. Unfortunately, most of the time, people really cannot help themselves when they are ill; they have no Sati, Samadhi, or knowledge and understanding of their own emotions. They talk in their sleep, they are worried, and are full of impulses, emotions, wrong thoughts and imaginings.
These people have no right view whatsoever because they have never practiced Morality and Kammatthana (meditation exercises). They therefore cannot help themselves. Offering food and requisites to the order or taking precepts, and being taught by a monk are not beneficial at all because they cannot control their own minds as sensation completely dominates them. They have to depend only on medicine and doctors until they die. This sort of help cannot bring peace and in the end confusion will remain.
We must train our minds first in order to understand them clearly, and we can then control sensations. The mind must be above sensation whatever happens in our lives if we want happiness. Unfortunately people do not think that they will encounter suffering. We must prepare to confront the unexpected suffering which we have not experienced before, such as the suffering of old age and illness.
If we have never broken our teeth, we must prepare ourselves for it happening. Later on they will break and drop out. The hair which is not grey will eventually be grey. Smooth skin will wrinkle and strong bodies will weaken. All these changes show us the suffering within our bodies as they do not really belong to us. We cannot think of our bodies as ourselves. (We have to realize always that the body is mirage-like because it is essentially insubstantial.)
In fact these sufferings, such as unendurable pain or being carried to the hospital with a fatal illness, will happen to us one of these days because it is inevitable. We must consider all these to prepare our mind, and then if it happens, we will not suffer. Always think in this way and bear it in mind. This is not a curse but is a cause of mental calm.
How to correct the mind
course of training, the more one contemplates, the more one exerts oneself.
When the Buddha taught Ananda to contemplate death every time he breathed in
and out, it meant he taught him to contemplate the contamination within his own
To think about one's own death is against the worldly way of thoughts. Why does one imagine such a dreadful thing? Isn't it better to think about eating, sleeping, and going out to enjoy oneself. The Buddha, however, asks us to reflect on death which is loathsome and fearful to all of us, because in doing so, the mind will become detached from the idea of 'self'.
If we are full of Lobha and various thoughts, we will not want to die because death is suffering. We are dominated by craving. When we realise however that death is coming, we can stop suffering because this suffering is eliminated by the frequent thoughts of our death and old age. We will develop Sati which protects us against Nivarana. Samadhi which follows will make our mind light and peaceful. So we must try to train ourselves to study the mind.
Buddhism teaches to study about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Concentration helps us to understand our own mind and the way to get rid of suffering. It also teaches us the primary, intermediate and, finally, the advanced method to end suffering because human beings are full of distress. Some have sorrow, anger and delusion which they cannot endure. When their minds are overwhelmed by a lot of impulses and emotions which are accumulated, the negativities will be expressed through body and mind. Some suffer so much that they have to commit suicide to escape from it all.
If we have practiced the Dhamma, we will know how to correct the mind. If we train ourselves frequently, skilful means will be developed. If we have never sat in meditation, we will be very ignorant because the mind is very difficult to understand. It is a very delicate thing. Some people will think that it is easy, but it is not. Only Ariyamagga will make us understand our minds and destroy Anusaya which are buried in the intrinsic qualities of character. Consequently wisdom will arise.
If defilements are not eradicated, wisdom will not be developed because, from our conditioning, we have not realised the truth and cannot get rid of delusion. We are still attached to suffering all the time. When there is illness, suffering, happiness and joy, we assume that it is 'we' who experience all these. 'We' are ill, 'we' are old, 'we' have pain, 'we' die. We cling to different statuses and never let go of the bodies which consist of Rupa (corporeality) and Nama (mind). If we are deluded, our contemplation will not be effective.
Therefore we must try to meditate in order to gain wisdom, to have sharp awareness of our minds, and to see how we are deluded by impulses and emotions. We must ask ourselves these questions: "When we sit for a long period, is there suffering? What is the cause of suffering?" As long as we have 5 aggregates (body, feeling, perception, intentional activities and consciousness), we will have suffering and will always have to put up with it.
If anything happens to affect our minds, whether it is grief or confusion, we will know straight away that suffering has arisen. Are we delighted? Regretful? Melancholic? ... Yes, we are full of misery. Why does only missing someone or something make us so unhappy? The answer lies with attachment to this person or that person, and to this object or that object.
What can we do to stop attachment? We must try to meditate in order to let go. How can we let go when we cannot discipline our minds? We must practice first, practice enough Morality and Samadhi so that when any problem arises, we are ready to let go.
There is no achievement without training
practitioner of the Dhamma is similar to a sports person. At first he or she
does not know how to play the game, but after some training, the person will
master it and can play it at any time. It becomes easy, really easy. Training
one's mind is the same. We must practise first.
To understand one's own mind is difficult, but if we continue observing it, it will become easier. By observing the different kinds of thoughts, we see how much anger and pain arise each day. There must be an intention to study the mind which contains the concepts of past and future and see how much we suffer each day.
If we can see through all these, we will understand the Dhamma. Later on, we will be able to develop forebearance and detachment. As soon as we are confronted with the same old emotion, we will be quick- witted and say to ourselves, "Here it is again, the old misery has arrived." When we realize what happens, we will become indifferent to impulses and emotions. To achieve this means we have developed Upekkha (equanimity). When anger or love arises, we will not get carried away, but will know how to let go. In the end suffering will be reduced.
The weapon in one's mind
to study the mind intensively; otherwise none of us will know how to stop
suffering. The mind is abstract and very delicate. If we do not study Samadhi,
we will not be able to understand our own mind clearly, only in a vague way. We
must study deeply about Sati and Samadhi if we want to understand the Dhamma
fully and correctly. Mind contains numerous emotions and defilements which can
appear at any moment when the eyes contact an object and seeing takes place or
when the ears contact an object and hearing takes place. Simultaneously,
impulses and emotions are produced and suffering follows. This process gathers
momentum and so accumulation starts. We have to study in order to refine our mind.
Whenever we see an object, we stop the process at once. This cutting of the continuity is the way to elevate our minds. It is the Path which leads to Nirodha. This Path can be compared with the current which not only separates us from merit and demerit, but also sweeps us up above them.
So we must train ourselves to create a habit to realise and apply this knowledge for everyday use. To have patience, diligence and Samadhi is always useful, it is never useless. We can make the most of them as weapons within ourselves. On the other hand, if we do not exercise, what do we have to fight against suffering? We will not be able to control excessive pleasure; or, even worse, we will be overwhelmed by pain. We will not have enough skill to deal with suffering and will be outmanoeuvred.
A diamond in one's mind
mind can be compared with a mountain! If, due to lack of interest in the
Dhamma, one does not dig and search through it, one will have no understanding
of it. How can the Dhamma be revealed if our minds are never free? We are used
to thinking all the time about getting rich and acquiring wealth. So how can we
let go of craving and develop renunciation? When our thoughts always concern
accumulating possessions and acquiring reputation, how can we dispel
We must be able to dig and search our own minds for liberation and development of realization. This is called "the discovery of a diamond." To succeed in finding it is not easy at all. We have to exert ourselves, sacrifice and put everything into it just as the Buddha did.
The Buddha also dug a whole mountain just for one diamond. We have to follow the same pattern, to train our minds with diligence in all postures - eating, walking, sitting and lying down. The main purpose is to observe our mind until it becomes one-pointed.
If we have developed awareness, can handle our mind with ease, and have developed one-pointedness, it is as though we have found the diamond within. Our consciousness will be illuminated and full of bliss. It is like having a treasure in our hands. One who has accomplished sitting in meditation is never poor ...
"Brothers and sisters [Yome] ... Sitting with closed eyes must not be considered being stupid. "
"By Golly! If we sit with open eyes we will be very stupid."
"One who sits with closed eyes will not be stupid any more."
In the past we used to sit with our eyes open. So we were very stupid. We were not alert enough top deal with our emotions. When someone abused us, we abused back. When someone hated us, we hated him or her back automatically. How stupid we were! Later on, when we sit and close our eyes, we do not retaliate by scolding anyone, and as a consequence we become peaceful and stupidity disappears as we sit in equanimity.
At one time, we could not sit in meditation for fear of poverty and starvation. The more children and grandchildren we had, the more worried we became and the more we had to struggle. There was no peace when we tried to sleep, as we were thinking about earning our living. We had never known the words 'wealthy' or 'enough'.
Now, when we sit and close our eyes, we are surprised to find out that we are already rich. So we give up the unnecessary struggle to earn more. We are not worried about the amount of money we have. Suddenly it is enough. We are already contented because we have managed to sit with our eyes closed. The more we close our eyes, the richer we become.
People who can study at the temple are wealthy, but previously they really struggled for fear of starvation. They worked hard for different people and they were at their wits ends. When they stay at the temple, however, they can close their eyes without any worry. They are already rich enough and have no need to stress and strain.
Do not look down upon a meditator and say that he is silly and poor. Beggars keep their eyes open all day to see whether a satang (Thai coin) will be dropped for them. They cannot close their eyes for fear of missing an opportunity. They beg in this manner all the time. This is the nature of the poor as they cannot close their eyes. On contrary the rich can do so with peace.
People who misunderstand the Dhamma will destroy morality taught by the Buddha. He taught us to maintain morality and Samadhi within our minds in order to experience tranquility. Ones who practise the Dhamma have skilful means. They earn their livings in honest ways and use their wealth for charity. They therefore make pure merit.
When we can differentiate between the the skilful and unskilful means of earning our livings, we will not suffer so much. Even if we are householders, we will have freedom and peace. Life will not be as hectic as before. There will be equilibrium and our Suffering will be extinguished. Ignorance will be eliminated through our study of the Dhamma.
Not as wise as others
fear of starvation. If we are desperate, we will be capable of finding whatever
we need. Usually, if we are poor, we are poor in morality. We were also lazy in
acquiring any virtue in our previous lives. While others were making merit, we
were doing evil and enjoying it. When they went to the temple to offer food and
requisites to the order of monks, we did not want to join them. As a result, we
are not as wise as the others in our present rebirth. We cannot keep up with
them whether earning our livings or acquiring wealth. We are outdone by others
because of our carelessness in past lives.
If we understand the Buddha Dhamma which demonstrates that every thing depends on good deeds which consist of Morality, Dana and meditation, these perfections will help us to rise above suffering. To take rebirth as a billionaire, a king or a celestial being, depends on past merit. The more we are charitable, the wealthier we become. We will never be inferior. Morality alone is considered both a human and Brahma's treasure. When the mind is highly developed, Nibbanic treasure will be within one's reach and there will never be poverty again.
People become poor because they do not understand Morality and Samadhi, and so they degenerate. They become corrupt and hence enter the lower social scale. When people drink and lose their awareness, they automatically turn themselves into low class human beings. Acquiring goodness for oneself can transform one into a high class person - that is, one who is high in virtue.
It has to be proved by oneself
the course of our practice, if we gain a clear perspective of the Noble Path,
we will have faith in the Buddha's teaching. He was enlightened in every aspect
of the Dhamma. All that he said is true. Dana liberates us from suffering and
poverty. Morality keeps body, speech and mind calm and tranquil, it ends
suffering and leads the way to heaven and finally to Nibbana. Samadhi brings
joy to our hearts and transforms us into happy and peaceful people.
All these meritorious practices and the teachings on their positive results are true. Hells really exist for people who have done evil and created bad kamma due to a lack of morality. Merit and demerit are the truth which the Buddha taught. We have no confidence in ourselves but have faith in him because he had already studied, understood, put it to the test and brought it to perfection. The main teachings which he gave us were Morality, Samadhi, and Panya.
The following topics: the Eightfold Noble Path, Ariyasacca (the Four Noble Truths), Paticcasamuppada (Dependent Origination) and Bodhipakkhiya Dhamma (the Thirty-seven qualities contributing to Enlightenment) were realised by the Buddha when he was Enlightened.
We cannot believe in merit and evil because we do not understand our minds. Once we do, and with experience, we will develop faith and doubt will be dispelled. It is like on your first visit to Wat Sanghathan. After finally seeing the temple, you exclaim, "Oh! This is what it looks like!"
To listen to the description of the temple is not the same as seeing it for oneself. We thought that there would be a beautiful Uposatha hall, but we can only see trees ... "Is this how they live? Is this the result of past good deeds - to sit on the bare earth? ... I see! This is what it really looks like." We had painted many different pictures, but they were not like the real thing at all. Imagination is one thing, but reality is another.
The Buddha knew reality and did not imagine things. He understood heaven and hell, Nibbana, merit and evil. This understanding can be realized within ones own mind.
We still paint pictures and keep thinking, "I wonder what a hell looks like? What is a heaven like? Do the celestial beings look like the ones which were painted on the Uposatha walls? What will Nibbana be like? Will there be a crystal castle?" We still have doubts about hell, heaven, Nibbana and our own minds. These doubts slow us down and prevent us from understanding and achieving clarification.
The Truth in which the Buddha was enlightened left him with no scepticism at all, but his audience still has sceptical minds. We have to try to practise in order to dispel uncertainty and to realize the Truth. For example, we are not sure whether sitting in meditation will bring peace ... Okay, after sitting, peace really occurs. So we are convinced and begin to accept that it is true.
During our practice, we gain clear comprehension about our own minds and our doubt disappears. As our minds contain all emotions, craving, aversion, delusion, love, hate, heaven, hell, and Nibbana, when we are aware of all these states, we will have no more suspicion. We no longer paint the pictures.
The moment we enter the Noble Path and gain Ariyaphala (the 4 fruits of the holy life), we will see things as they are. We develop clear comprehension and have confidence in ourselves that we have really seen (or experienced) Nibbana, heaven, hells and so understand that these states really exist.