THE MIND THE MIND
The Mind is important and valuable. Happy and Suffering is a manifest of the mind. To understand the Dhamma is to understand the nature of the mind. The manifestation of the mind is a great source to learn and to understand many natural processes.
This book, which if entitled The Mind is especially, selected form the Dhamma preaching of Ven. Phra Ajahn Sanong Katapunyo. It is hoped to guide in the study and training of one's mind. This book couldn't be completed without the help of Khun Parnsri Wichagonrakul who has helped translating the original Thai Text in to English.
The usefulness of this book can only be realised by you (the reader) if use in your daily lives.
May Dhamma be with you!
The Committee of Wat Sanghanthan Nontaburi Thailand
New Buds for Old Leaves (Turn over a New Leaf )
If we cannot drop all suffering, worries, indecisive thoughts from our minds, if we do not get rid of old bad habits, and do not keep to morality, do not stop being immoral, where will peace be found? If we seek happiness, we have to rid our minds of suffering, previous wrong thoughts and the past, which caused the mind's suffering. It is like a man spitting - he does not take back his saliva; or like leaves which drop from a plant they do not reattach themselves back to the plant, but allow new leaves to emerge instead.
Our minds are the same; if they are trained it will be as though the tree puts forth new leaves. All the disorder, which brought suffering, will vanish if we get rid of various emotions. " Buddho " " Dhammo ", and "Sangho" will replace slander and scolding in one's mind; removing those feelings from today onward, we shall not say bad words to anyone, we shall have reason within us. To practise the Dhamma relieves suffering; the process is the same as weeding an untidy garden, bringing neatness and preparing the ground for plants we wish to cultivate. After discarding bad thoughts, they will be replaced by happiness. Therefore the only important thing is one's own mind, not anyone else's. One has to correct one's own mind. Even if we keep only one precept, we will be happy, and be loved as well as praised, for we have never harmed anybody at all. We made ourselves useful towards everybody who was born in the same world. We have never gossiped, harmed or competed with anyone. Why ? Because we feel pity for those who would like to be well fed and to sleep soundly, and to be as happy as we are. We would never find faults with the others at all.
Practising "Buddho" Leads to a Happy Mind
Practising the Dhamma is to learn concentration; practise "Buddho" regularly. If we cannot say "Buddho", just "Bud" when inhaling, and "Dho" on exhaling, what else can we do ? Where else can we seek happiness? Nowhere. If we cannot even say "Buddho ",what chance is there to hope for happiness ?
"Bud" breathing in, "Dho" breathing out, for only five or ten minutes; if we still cannot do it, and we still cannot control our minds, how can we create happiness in our minds ? If we cannot concentrate, it shows that we cannot be calm. If we cannot be calm , we will never be happy. It is like plants which produce no fruit - where can we get fruit to eat? Similarly, it is like fruit which drops off the branch before it has grown and ripened - where can we get fruit to eat?
Our minds are not trained to concentrate, cannot practise "Buddho" ,cannot be calm at all. When we cannot control our minds, we cannot seek happiness, for there will not be any to be found. If one cannot " Buddho ", and cannot be calm in the temple, one will not find any happiness in this world- or outside it - even though one is a multi-millionaire, can fly around the world or go to the Moon, because one cannot even control one's own breathing with "Bud" and "Dho"
If we cannot even control the mind and stop thinking, where can we find happiness? There will be no hope for it, if everyone is like that, no one will find happiness in this world. This is because we do not know how to say "Buddho", do not know how to concentrate and be calm. It shows that we do not have enough wisdom to find the way to extinguish suffering. Disappointments will always occur: disappointments in family life, with children, or marital partner, in business, or way of life; why? Because our minds have never stopped wandering.
Think Until We Suffer
Not being able to control our thoughts, we will always feel restless both in body and mind. We suffer because of uncomfortable, annoying thoughts. Thinking of drowning oneself comes from uncontrolled sorrowful thought. It is not a thought, which only occurs once. Thinking of drowning oneself, or other suicidal thoughts, come frequently; as the thoughts accumulate, so does the distress. This is because one cannot avoid one's own thoughts, even if one tries. If he or she does not know how to meditate, to control, the only way to solve the problem is to die so that the thought will vanish. But actually it does not extinguish the thought; if one dies while suffering, the suffering will continuously follow and torment him or her.
Only the Dhamma will destroy the worrying mind that has bad and exaggerated thoughts. It will destroy the causes of the thoughts totally. Afterwards one will find happiness in this life. We should know the Dhamma know how to feel free without any attachments, know our own hearts, know how to meditate, so that we will no longer have unnecessary thoughts. If we think too much, we will suffer, since unrestricted thoughts are Avijja. But if we think in a controlled manner, we can get rid of them. This is Vijja which leads to happiness without financial cost.
A Good Heart Produces Good Words
We should control our words, not slandering, not using bad language, not speaking with anger, not speaking at all when furious. In such situations, it is good not to say anything. If we have a good heart, and give good attention to speaking well, that is good. If we have a bad heart, when we are angry and not in a good humour, we will use bad words, even with good intentions.
Therefore, all words emanating from good hearts will bring happiness to both speaker and hearers. Such words produce no evil. If we use good words, we shall have no quarrels, arguments or bad feeling. We will talk about good things, admire good people, and advise others to do good. We will not be jealous of others, nor play dirty tricks on anyone. This behaviour will bring us great happiness.
Generally people with prejudices take sides with their friends, even when they have done something wrong, while they will envy the opposite side even when they are doing something good, and if they have done something bad, those people will never forgive them. This is not good for us, as the good or evil is not with the others, but in our own hearts when we think badly of others.
Therefore, coming to the temple, we have to practice controlling our minds - with precepts, meditation and wisdom; try to pacify our bodies, speech and minds more and more sothat we will realize what we have done during the day, what we have eaten, how we walked, sat, slept, what we have done wrong or right, and try to check ourselves. Thus we will find that we have something to hold onto to destroy suffering by our own efforts, give us personal esteem by having better understanding.
Restlessness cannot calm the Mind
Practising the Dhamma only by saying "Buddho" will lead to happiness. Human beings who cannot meditate to calm themselves will not find any happiness. Winning lotteries all the time will not give them happiness, but contrariwise it will make them more unhappy than those who have nothing. Why ? Because they are not at peace, so how can they be happy, since happiness comes from calmness.
The Lord Buddha said, ' There is not other happiness better better than peace' A full stomach, deep sleep, these are worldly joys, but when one wakes up, one will still have the same old worrying unhappy thoughts. If we cannot meditate, we will not find any happiness in this world, since our minds are not peaceful, cannot stop fretting, so we will be pitiful and unhappy in this life. The more we try, the more suffering we will have. When we come to the temple, we have to train our minds, so as not to be angry when others blame us, nor feel hurt when they talk about us behind our backs, nor forget our selves if they praise us. We should train our minds frequently to adjust to our varying emotions, so that whoever advises us, or speaks badly to us, we will remain calm and not react.
Practising Samadhi makes the most merit, the merit which leads the mind onto a good path. The sins we have committed by evil thought, word, or deed, will lead us to an unpeaceful mind, full of prejudice, anger and desire for revenge. While alive, whatever we are doing, eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, they will torment us with worries; there is no way at all to extinguish the suffering.
Reciting "Buddho" helps us correct our minds, creating a new "life" for its, calms our minds, leading us to happiness. Whenever we are peaceful, we will find happiness and satisfaction; but vice versa, whenever we are not peaceful, we will find disappointment, sorrow and irritation. Therefore it is essential for us to calm our minds; we must train, study, practise, in order to know our own minds. Merit, sins, heaven or Nibbana happen in our own minds. How do these happen? We must study in order to find out for ourselves.
A calm mind finds happiness
The reason we go to the temple is to gain more merit, in order to increase existing merit and clarify our minds, so as not to engage in delusions, be at fault, or deviate into undesirable paths, which would bring us disappointment and sorrow in the end. But if we make merit, there would be no suffering in consequence. Even if there were, we would be able to solve the problem, knowing the causes of suffering, by not having desires, or excessive desires. If such is the case, we have to train our minds to make them stay still, stop being greedy and realize that we cannot take anything at all with us at the end.
If we cannot do this, nothing will go right with us, nothing will make us happy. If we cannot make up our minds, cannot train them, there is no way for us to go, lacking mindfulness, concentration and wisdom to pacify our minds. But if our mindfulness and wisdom can control our emotions, while eating, walking, sitting or sleeping, we always know how our minds are. If your mind is disturbed, you should repeatedly say "Buddho" until you are calm; then you will experience real happiness.
This is what we should consider when we come to the temple; we have to control the mind, bring it peace and take that peace back home to apply it in our daily lives.
The Area of Heaven And Nibbana
Try to control your mind to forget the past and the coming future. Try to pacify your mind, extinguishing all thoughts by being in the Dhamma emotion. We are the Dhamma. If we want to know the Dhamma, we have to consider it; body is the Dhamma, mind is the Dhamma.
Since we have a good opportunity by being in the temple to study Buddhism even if only for a day, a night or an hour, it is considered that life is worthwhile, for the Dhamma compound is the compound of heaven and Nibbana. Coming to the temple will be beneficial to us, our family and religion, guiding us from the wrong view into the right view.
May I give you an example? Today we may intend to do evil things, either physically, verbally or mentally - going to drink intoxicants to excess, gambling; even if these are only to ease our minds or for recreation, they acquaint us with bad habits and create suffering and problems, and lead us to do them again and again. Whether it is gambling, drinking until intoxicated, or continuous smoking, they form bad habits, destroying our minds and bodies, and ultimately we suffer in ourselves. If we behave in an evil fashion, and never stop or train ourselves to do good or to give up evil habits, they multiply until we cannot get rid of them, for we have come to think of them as things that we have to do, they are our work, duties we must do.
When suffering like this, we cannot find a way to stop it because we are not acquainted with the Dhamma. It creates worries, suffering and perpetual unpleasant ineradicable memories. If we have made merit since our youth, it will give us pleasant memories; whenever we think back on it, we will fell happy, goodness will always encourage us and give us strength.
But if we have had a bad habit since childhood, this will make us unhappy, and irritate our minds. What we may have done in the past, thinking it to be correct, we may now know, recollecting it, to have been wrong, and will feel unhappy in consequence. Therefore what we have to do is to control the mind to perform good deeds to release it from adherence to wrong views, and create a new vision which is the Dhamma.
Only the Dhamma will cool down the mind and bring it joy. It is no danger to one's own mind or those of others. It will be very beneficial to your mind in the future. This can be called heaven in this world, creating heavenly abodes for angels; creating a mind capable of extinguishing suffering is to bring it to Nibbana, destroying all turmoil in the mind.
If human beings can enter Nibbana, they will all be happy. But they will not be happy if they have the turmoil of human hearts which they cannot destroy, such as children and household problem, love affairs, greed, anger and delusions, one after the other.
Human beings are acquisitive, in all ways - anger, greed, love and being loved - but the more we gain, the more our suffering increases.
Husbands want to be loved by their wives exclusively, until such love turns into obsession. In the same way, wives want to be their husbands only desire, do not want them to love other women. They both also want to be loved by their friends. Such an attitude creates more torment; love causes anxiety - about sickness, whether things arc right or wrong, any changes. All these cause more worries and quarrels. Examples are given of husbands or wives who love their spouses too much so that they smother them by obsessive possessiveness, which then turns to being a cause of arguments and quarrels.
In the same way, overbearing parental affection can cause worry and lead to arguments.
Love can be poisonous, both to the one who loves, and to the beloved; if they do not understand love, it will turn to worry, possessiveness, and constant suffering. Love without the Dhamma is always like that. Thus no families or individuals will be as the others wish them to be. Children want their parents to have limited love, not to be overprotective. Husbands want their wives to love them within certain limitations, not too possessively. If love is not like they want, troubles will occur, as they often do these days.
This problem was solved during the Buddha's time. He solved the problem of suffering love by preaching to Mme. Patajara and all the Bhikkhu. She understood what was being taught, and made up her mind to be impartial. That is Nibbana - extinguishing all uncontrolled emotions.
True Loving Heart is Incomprehensible
If we do not practise the Dhamma, we tend to be biased, which leads to regular suffering, since we want everything to be as we want it to be, but it is not. This is the kind of life led by those who lack the Dhamma, who will always have problems. Even love turns to be a major and regular occasion of suffering, while you have breath.
When the beloved is ill, we will suffer. If anything untoward happens to those we love most, we suffer. It is painful, because we do not1 want them to be ill or die. We want them to be1 well always. By being like this, we only make suffering for ourselves.
In this world, there will only be suffering; no-one is happy, for having a lot of love; and a lot of worry, one will only suffer. Parents love their children; the children do not suffer, but the parents will, since they want them to be as they intend. But the children will be as they are, and will not understand their parents. In the same way with husbands and wives; the latter will always be as they are and will not understand the former. Vice versa, husbands will be as they are and will not understand their wives. Their loves are not understood.
Love will be understood only at the beginning, but as time passes by, it changes to be excessive which leads to suffering all the line, with every breath. This is because we worry, are over possessive, and nothing is as we would wish it to be, at all.
Therefore, when we are in the temple, should learn how to eliminate all defilement coarse, medium or subtle reduce them, define them, release them, and calm them; reducing them until in the end we can let all go. Then we will feel calm, since we will then know well know and to think and not to think, what to accept and what not to. Thus we will be happy and cuter the Dhamma arena, which leads to enlightenment and peace.
Detachment Frees the Mind
We say "Bud" while inhaling and "Dho" when exhaling, so as to retain "Buddho" as the principle of meditation. The mind is unstable and always changes mood. If it changes mood, it will conceive thoughts of suffering. For example, when we say "Bud" on inhaling "Dho" on exhaling, we should feel relaxed; but when the mind does not follow the right view, there will be no "Buddho", we will think of the person who abused us, or the person we love but who rejected us, and we will feel angry, vengeful and agitated, as well as unhappy. If we pull our minds back to "Buddho" , it will erase all the anger and thoughts of revenge. Entering the Dhamma brings tranquillity to the mind.
We should try to control our minds in such a way when they worry about other people and are unhappy. We have to cut out the attachment and realize that one is born and dies singly. When thinking of death, one should control oneself and feel tranquil. Whatever one's deeds, their consequences will be received; good deeds ensure a good departure. Evil deeds in a previous existence guarantee misfortunes in the present life. When this is appreciated we will become at ease.
Suddenly distractions form themselves vividly and concretely again - we think about our children and families. Worries spring up again. The deeper we worry; the more suffering and delusions we get. It tears our hearts. We should think of the Dhamma. We have practised the Dhamma. We hold to the Triple Gems as our refuges. We ought not to let any anxiety enter our minds. The present situation is burden enough already.
We have to remind ourselves to keep to the Dhamma, free and cairn our minds. What over the problem let it go. If it is going to happen, it will happen; if it has to end, it will. It has always been like that. We have to train our minds to follow the Dhamma, to have wisdom and mindfulness. Frequent practice, at least an hour a day, will bring us happiness, as though having been momentarily in heaven, or the angelic abode.
The Dhamma - the teachings of the Lord Buddha - contains the principles which make everyone peaceful. Coming to the temple makes us think and now how to sever attachment . Returning home, there are many worries, but if we still practise the teachings, we will continue to be calm. We will realize that the way to eradicate suffering and enter into tranquillity is available and accessible. We still cannot attain it yet, because we are still involved in hindrances and responsibilities. If we can eliminate them, be relieved of worries and anxieties, suffering will be terminated.
But if we increase love and anxieties, we will suffer more. It is like a rich man who has a shop and is happy, then opens more shops. When he has two, three or four shops, he will not be able to sleep. The more money he makes, the less happiness he gains. This is because he is too attached. If we have a lot of things, we may be pleased, but we should not be attached to them. Whatever will happen, will happen; whatever will be extinguished, will be extinguished. Whether we own a little or a lot, we should be content and not be attached to our possessions. We have the Dhamma and the truth in our minds that everything is impermanent; it comes and goes.
Even the lovers who swear to love each other until death, still part before that. We are born, and will die. Nothing is permanent. How can we believe that everything will be as promised?
Thus, we should retain the Dhamma in our lives. We were born singly, and we shall die singly; eat for oneself, sleep for oneself, and of course, suffer for oneself. If we cannot help ourselves to calm our minds, how can we help others ? First of all we must help ourselves, so that we can then help others.
Only Good Deeds Taken
Corning to the temple is beneficial, because we practise to become enlightened and awake in our minds. We pay attention to and know what we are doing. How much happiness or suffering do we have? How are our minds? How unsettled are they? We try to get rid of the things which cause suffering.
Dukkha (Suffering ) creates wisdom. We experience suffering, recognize it, and try to get rid of it. If we always think too much, we have to try to solve the problem of thinking. When over - thinking is reduced, there will be no problem. Those who are prone to anger, because they do not restrain it, allow themselves to be angry so frequently that it is difficult to cure. If we know that we become angry easily, we should try to reduce our anger, by promoting loving-kindness. As this builds up, anger will be reduced and we will become calm. Thus we solve the problem by recognizing its cause and curing it at its source.
We should always say our prayers and meditate for our own good. When we die, we cannot take anything with us, except alms-giving, observance the precepts and mental development. Jewellery, silver and gold, houses, all will be left for others. We only take with us our good deeds. Bad deeds should be left behind; if we take them with us, we shall suffer again. We shall leave the world as we came into it; we can only take with us Kamma - our deeds.
What did the Buddha do? He came to the world with good deeds, he practised good deeds, and finally he left good deeds with the others, so that they would practise good deeds too, and avoid bad ones . He took neither good nor bad deeds with him. He extinguished all suffering, thus had no more pain or effects of deeds (Kamma). For us, when we leave this world, we should take only good deeds; that is, do good, avoid evil. Anger, greed and delusion are bad deeds.
Who Can Help One Deep in Love?
Those who do not care for us, why should we care? They do not love us, why should we love them? Why should we die for love? They sit laughing at us, but we are hanging ourselves. It is a wrong thought; we love them very much but they do not love us, so we had better die. Well, if they do not love us, why should we die? We must control our minds, practice Sila; we have to love ourselves more.
It is foolish to have such a wrong thought. They do not love us and we feel unhappy. If they do not have to love us, we should be happy, for then we do not have to serve them, or take care of them. It is better to do things for ourselves, to practise the Dhamma. When we die we will be in heaven. If we commit suicide, we will go to hell, due to loving them without using any wisdom. They will be laughing happily, but we are the slaves of their love and cannot help ourselves. This is called the suffering caused by love.
If we have the Dhamma, we are fortunate. It does not matter if nobody loves us, we will live with the Dhamma. We will study and practise it in order to perform good deeds so that in the future we will not be disappointed again. We till meet someone who will not cheat us, we will have good friends and leave the bad ones. But why should we have a wrong thought of wishing to live with them always, even though they are not true to anyone? This is because we lack the Dhamma.
If we have the Dhamma we will be able to make up our minds, we will know how to judge and choose good things. If any husband has a minor wife, let him go with his love, saying "I will take the Dhamma, I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, now I am free, no more ties! "Living with a bad and insincere person is not good. It is better to live with the Dhamma. If we are wise, we will throw him away easily as though he were an old rag, or saliva, or phlegm. If we are foolish, we will suffer and be his slave always.
Coming to the temple is to train the mind to have some basic principles. When we have troubles, we will not remain in a condition of suffering, we will be patient and overcome it, we will have a thorough knowledge of the world, emotion, incidents. That is having the Dhamma to protect us; living with the Triple Gems will make us happy.
Coming to the temple gives an advantage; do try to practise the Dhamma and be aware of it in your minds. Suffering has its source in the mind, so we have to solve the problem of thought. The Dhamma is "Buddho" which calms us. More practice will make us happy. The mind is not confused, the anxiety and worry will be reduced. Why?
It is because we have wisdom to control our minds. We are born alone, and die alone; why worry, since it will not make any difference? With wisdom we are able to see the truth. If we do not have wisdom, we will suffer alone, even though the others are not really suffering much. Thus the Dhamma solves the problems in our minds. Do try to practise it.
Better to Examine One 's Own Face than Another's
When we do good, we will be stable and self- confideiit, sustained by our good deeds and unafraid of being harmed by anyone. This behaviour is called having the Dhamma. The Dhamma is being calm, mentally undisturbed, having principles onto which to hold - the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha - leading to eternal cessation of mental suffering. Thus if one wishes to be happy, one should practise mindfulness daily.
Briefly, this involves training the four Satipatthanas - self-awareness while walking, standing, sitting, sleeping, eating, and thinking. This is the Dhamma that eradicates suffering, develops mindfulness, concentration and wisdom, - aware of eating, sitting, sleeping, thinking, or even of being angry or having hatred. Doing so is akin to what was done by the Worthy Ones. It is the Dhamma of the Worthy Ones, and that of the Lord Buddha. He taught us the four Satipatthanas, awareness of ourselves while eating, walking, sitting and sleeping.
Nowadays, we are not aware of eating, walking, sleeping, nor of the four Satipatthaiia; this means that we do not know our own minds but those of others. This is similar to sitting, closing our eyes to meditate, and not seeing our own faces but those of others; this is suffering. When meditating, if we always see our friend's face, we always suffer, we often worry about him. If we are listening to the monk's preaching, we want him to finish it soon, but if while meditating we see our own faces, we will be calm and forget all worldly affairs-either good or bad, beloved or hated, we call be rid of them all.
When observing one's own face or breath, happiness and tranquillity increase. We can sit meditating as long as we wish. Happiness arises from seeing one's own face. But it is difficult to do this, for one has to use a mirror. When looking at one's face, one wonders whether it is beautiful or not. One should consider it with the Dhamma, so that the mind will be calm. While meditating, if one considers one's own face and mind, one will be happy and peaceful, but if one envisages the face and mind of another, tranquillity will never be gained.
Some people claim that if they do not see the face they wish, they will be unable to sleep. Just seeing it, or its representation, would be sufficient. Why not be aware of one's own face, and remain calm? Why be obsessed by that of another?
The Dhamma is the path leading to the cessation of suffering. Train to be aware of one's face. Do not envisage that of another which you will adore if you love, or hate and reject if you dislike the owner. A certain face which appeals to you may make you happy and crave to see repeatedly, but one which you dislike will result in revulsion and anger.
Seeing one's own face rids one of greed, anger and delusions. Observing one's own breath and face, one will feel happy arid serene as seeing the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha in one's own mind. It is quite enough to study this; studying to see one's own face and mind is enough to eradicate one's suffering.
Seeing a smiling face gives joy, but when it turns ugly and scowling, it is unpleasant. At first sight, the face looks nice and always smiles, but afterwards it turns sour and one will be unhappy to view it. Staring at such a face causes suffering, that is the mind changes with the face. But if we notice our faces and minds, they cause no suffering, since they are real. Whatever our minds think, we know that it is true, so our minds will be calm; therefore, seeing our own face makes concentration. The Lord Buddhadid so too, and taught his disciples to follow in the same path.
If we want to know the Dhamma, that is all we need to learn. Whether standing, walking, sitting or sleeping, one should be aware of oneself, mind and face, in order to be calm and wise. But if when sitting in meditation, one closes one's eyes and sees the face of the other, desiring to see it more, and in person as well, or if while angry and full of hatred, one envisages the others face with a desire to kill either the other or oneself to escape seeing the other's face again - all is Dukkha (suffering), and because of lack of the Dhamma.
However, if we are aware of our own minds, we will not suffer. If we like to look at somebody else's face, and cannot forget it, go and took at the Buddha's image, or your own face in the mirroruntil you can remember it, and forget the face of the other whom you adored, hated, were repelled or attracted by. By viewing one's own face frequently, if one tries to remember it vividiy, one will he happy thereafter.
Clear the mind
If we do not train it, we will sit with innocent eyes but unclear mind. Our minds will not accept any knowledge, because they cannot understand. Sitting with innocent eyes when the mind is not peaceful and cannot concentrate means that we cannot control the mind.
Our minds have been wandering for a long time, they cannot be controlled in one day, they will always wander. Therefore, whichever temple one goes into, one will not feel at ease, not even at Wat Sanghathan, Wat Dhammakaya, Wat Suan Kaew or any other wats. This is because one's mind is not at ease. We go to the temple, we sit with innocent eyes, but our minds are not clear. Even going to a hundred temples, our minds are still not calm. Even listening to the Dhamma until our last day, we will still not understand it.
The mind cannot be calm, one cannot concentrate nor say "Buddho", so what will one get? One should be firm, for it is up to oneself to calm one's mind. It is not up to whether the Bhikkhu's way of preaching is nice or understandable. One has to understand one's own mind, so that suffering will cease, and peaceful happiness will replace it.
The Dhamma is as has been said; we have to understand our minds. We are only told to contemplate; why do we learn a lot? Only say "Buddho"; why do we know of 84,000 Dhammakkhandha, sin and merit, heaven, hell and Nibbana? Only "Buddho"; how do we know? The answer is because we have concentration.
Concentration generates wisdom, to know inner defilernents, how they develop, what suffering and happiness are. If we practise alms-giving, the precepts, and concentration, we shall be led to heaven's gate. A constant calm heart will produce constant tranquillity. We will be able to do it. This is called entering the cessation of suffering. The entrance to Nibbana opens when the mind is calm, there is no turmoil nor attachment. We have to correct ourselves so that we will attain true and peaceful happiness.
Better Watch Your Minds
The teaching makes us know the method of keeping the Dhamma, that is to know that we have thirty-two characteristics - hair, body-hair, nails, teeth, skin, body, mind, etc. Whether eating, walking, sitting or sleeping, we should remind ourselves of them. If one's mind wanders, try to pull it back, attaching it to one's breath, body and heart. A lot of these reminders, and thinking of the Triple Gems - the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha - will enable one to extinguish one's suffering immediately.
Afterwards, whenever we have any problems, we use the Dhamma and mindfulness immediately to stop our minds from wandering. Since we know the principle of mental training, and know our own minds, the mind will not be confused. This is the Dhamma that we should use, it is the emergency technique, which is for controlling anger, confusion, jealousy and dissatisfaction. The scheme leading to peaceful happiness in life is planning to tackle our minds problems. We should not ask anybody to solve them for us. Those who ask others to solve their difficulties have usually created their own problems. They are emotional, so they suffer. Too much gratification leads to mental instability. If we love someone and our love is not returned, we weep and are disappointed. When someone does not act to please us, we feel angry and vengeful. This is because we are in the habit of letting our emotions and desires control us.
We should start to correct this attitude by saying "Buddho" when we are pleased, as well as "Buddho" when we are not, since we know that being sad or angry is bad, and contrariwise, being infatuated will lead to obsession. If things are not done as we wish, we will be resentful and suffer. Thus it is better to control our minds, becoming impassive and mindful that nobody can make us suffer.
We will not be angry when be abused, nor be trapped by temptations. If we are not subject to passions of hatred and love, who will suffer? Human beings are tormented by excess of love and disappointment. If we are indifferent to any pleasure or sorrow, we shall be like children in simplicity, without artificiality or guile. When we grow up, things are more complicated because we are not in tune with our emotions or ourselves, and ourselves be unmindful, not even training to be mindful at all.
When we know the Dhamma, we have to practise it until it becomes habitual. We have to train to be patient and to have concentration in our minds. When we have "Buddho", we will not hate nor dote, neither be agitated nor angry. Our minds will not be erratic, for we have something to hold onto keep us secure. We will have both the shade of a tree and a cool breeze, for we have "Buddho. Even with such a shady protection, we sometimes want to walk out into the sun, to be in the heat. Even with a shade to hold onto , we still reject it. We have the Three Gems, the principle for calming the mind, but we are still not calm, our minds still wander with uncontrolled thoughts, resulting in unhappiness and agitation. In short, everything - happiness, suffering, merit, sin, hell or heaven is in our minds. Mind is the sole remedy for everything. Having a good mind, everything becomes good. We have to depend on our deeds, nobody can help us. The mind controls the form in which we shall be reborn; how stupid or wise, good or bad we are, depends upon our own minds.
Therefore, let us correct our minds, so that everything will be as we wish. We will be less disappointed if we know how to correct our own minds. If anyone insults or rebukes us, and we are not pleased, we should not correct the person who does so, but correct our own minds.
The Dhamma as Medicine
In this life, it is necessary to prepare our minds to practise the Dhamma in order to solve major problems, to convert them to minor inconveniences and not to transform minor problems to major ones. Nowadays, people are afraid of illness, especially cancer. Many of them have frequent medical check-ups. Sometimes the pain is here, now there. The more we know of an illness, the more we are afraid of it and imagine the pains.
When we enter a period of deteriorating health, we suffer from many illnesses, and feel afraid of them. Actually, these arise in our own minds and are transferred to our bodies. We do not cure the disease in our minds or by our deeds, but we consult medical doctors. Sometime the illness can be treated. A doctor's mother, wife, child, or he may have serious cancer without being aware of it. When it is found, it is also too late to be cured; he can cure others but is unable to diagnose it in himself.
Why so? This is because of our bad deeds in the previous life. We rarely make merit, do not donate anything, nor keep any of the precepts, nor practise the Dhamma. Being without any sacrifice or merit causes us danger and illness. Many people are ill nowadays, hospitals proliferate, but still are always full of patients. Medicine cannot cure certain diseases, no matter how good it is. Therefore there are still more illnesses.
In these days, we try to cure the illness but not the suffering, the root cause, by the Dhamma. We have not been trained to use the Dhamma - the Buddha's medicine-to cure illness. If the Dhamma is practised profoundly, the sick person will be like one who is not sick; one who is suffering will be rid of it. The Dhamma can solve all problems in life.
One who has been disappointed, if he does not practise the Dhamma, will feel sorrowful, lonely and resentful all his life. Studying the Dhamma, no matter how disappointed or inferior he is, his life will still be a success. We are fortunate to be able to come to the temple and practise the Dhamma. If we do not, we will be full of suffering and our minds and hearts scarred forever impression on the mind. Good impressions satisfy us, and the unpleasant ones contrariwise. If we recognize the satisfaction or dissatisfaction and still remain neutral, that is the Dhamma.
Ears hear sounds or voices; good ones produce pleasure, the opposite repulsion. Bad words uttered make one angry and provoke similar retaliation, since we have this feeling in our minds. The consciousness relays the feeling to make the mind realize that words spoken are not good, and we are not pleased with them. If we do not detach ourselves from them, they will make us suffer, causing dissatisfaction. We know that our ears heard the words, which disturb our minds. We realize the dissatisfaction has occurred. Such a knowledge of the mind's reaction makes us stay indifferent.
Such a knowledge also makes us understand the Dhamma and the paths leading to cessation of suffering. Through it we understand that our eyes visualize forms, our ears hear sounds or voices, the nose detects smells, and the tongue appreciates taste. All these are food for the mind, the temptations, which are the sources of our suffering and happiness at all, time. We have done wrongly, no one has persuaded us, we do not behave wisely and do not have conscious control of our ears, eyes, nose, tongue, body and mind, because we do not practise the Dhamma. After deeply studying the Dhamma, our minds will be able to stop the suffering far better than those who do not.
Since the Dhamma is the tool for cessation of suffering, we should study and practise it. Although doing so is difficult, it is better than doing something easier but which produces bad results and unhappiness. When performing good deeds, our minds will be happy all the time. We should study and practise the virtue that the Lord Buddha taught us, so that we will have security and confidence that we are doing good and will produce good consequences in this life. For whom? For our own peaceful minds. When coming to the temple to practice the precepts and listen to the Dhamma, wisdom will arise spontaneously within us.
Therefore the teachings of the Lord Buddha are so sublime that we should practise to develop our wisdom and understanding, not believing in anything blindly. This wisdom enables us to understand what we never comprehended before, with all doubt eliminated. Happiness will come to the minds of those who practise the teachings; suffering will not intrude on them, as they will know the way to end suffering.
When we prepare our minds well, we will be able to use the Dhamma to help ourselves, our families and society, because we know how to rule our own minds.