of goodness who have gathered here please listen in peace. Listening to the
Dhamma in peace means to listen with a one-pointed mind, paying attention to
what you hear and then letting go. Listening to the Dhamma is of great benefit.
While listening to the Dhamma we are encouraged to firmly establish both body
and mind in samadhi, because it is one kind of dhamma practice. In the
time of the Buddha people listened to Dhamma talks intently, with a mind
aspiring to real understanding, and some actually realized the Dhamma while
place is well suited to meditation practice. Having stayed here a couple of
nights I can see that it is an important place. On the external level it is
already peaceful, all that remains is the internal level, your hearts and minds.
So I ask all of you to make an effort to pay attention.
have you gathered here to practice meditation? It's because your hearts and
minds do not understand what should be understood. In other words, you don't
truly know how things are, or what is what. You don't know what is wrong and
what is right, what it is that brings you suffering and causes you to doubt. So
first you have to make yourselves calm. The reason that you have come here to
develop calm and restraint is that your hearts and minds are not at ease. Your
minds are not calm, not restrained. They are swayed by doubting and agitation.
This is why you have come here today and are now listening to the Dhamma.
would like you to concentrate and listen carefully to what I say, and I ask
permission to speak frankly because that's how I am. Please understand that even
if I do speak in a forceful manner, I am doing so out of good will. I ask your
forgiveness if there is anything I say that upsets you, because the customs of
Thailand and those of the West are not the same. Actually, speaking a little
forcefully can be good because it helps to stir people up who might otherwise be
sleepy or drowsy, and rather than rousing themselves to hear the Dhamma allow
themselves to drift instead into complacency and as a result never understand
there may appear to be many ways to practice really there is only one. As with
fruit trees, it is possible to get fruit quickly by planting a cutting, but the
tree would not be resilient or long lasting. Another way is to cultivate a tree
right from the seed, which produces a strong and resilient tree. Practice is the
I first began to practice I had problems understanding this. As long as I still
didn't know what's what, sitting meditation was a real chore, even bringing me
to tears on occasion. Sometimes I would be aiming too high, at others not high
enough, never finding the point of balance. To practice in a way that's peaceful
means to place the mind neither too high or too low, but at the point of
can see that it's very confusing for you, coming from different places and
having practiced in different ways with different teachers. Coming to practice
here you must be plagued with all kinds of doubts. One teacher says you must
practice in one way, another says you should practice another way. You wonder
which method to use, unsure of the essence of the practice. The result is
confusion. There are so many teachers and so many teachings that nobody knows
how to harmonize their practice. As a result there is a lot of doubt and
you must try not to think too much. If you do think, then do so with awareness.
But so far your thinking has been done with no awareness. First you must make
your mind calm. Where there is knowing there is no need to think, awareness will
arise in its place, and this will in turn become wisdom (paņņa). But
the ordinary kind of thinking is not wisdom, it is simply the aimless and
unaware wandering of the mind, which inevitably results in agitation. This is
this stage you don't need to think. You've already done a great deal of thinking
at home, haven't you? It just stirs up the heart. You must establish some
awareness. Obsessive thinking can even bring you tears, just try it out. Getting
lost in some train of thought won't lead you to the truth, it's not wisdom. The
Buddha was a very wise person, he'd learnt how to stop thinking. In the same way
you are practicing here in order to stop thinking and thereby arrive at peace.
If you are already calm it is not necessary to think, wisdom will arise in its
meditate you do not have to think much more than to resolve that right now is
the time for training the mind and nothing else. Don't let the mind shoot off to
the left or to the right, to the front or behind, above or below. Our only duty
right now is to practice mindfulness of the breathing. Fix your attention at the
head and move it down through the body to the tips of the feet, and then back up
to the crown of the head. Pass your awareness down through the body, observing
with wisdom. We do this to gain an initial understanding of the way the body is.
Then begin the meditation, noting that at this time your sole duty is to observe
the inhalations and exhalations. Don't force the breath to be any longer or
shorter than normal, just allow it to continue easily. Don't put any pressure on
the breath, rather let it flow evenly, letting go with each in-breath and
must understand that you are letting go as you do this, but there should still
be awareness. You must maintain this awareness, allowing the breath to enter and
leave comfortably. There is no need to force the breath, just allow it to flow
easily and naturally. Maintain the resolve that at this time you have no other
duties or responsibilities. Thoughts about what will happen, what you will know
or see during the meditation may arise from time to time, but once they arise
just let them cease by themselves, don't be unduly concerned over them.
the meditation there is no need to pay attention to sense impressions. Whenever
the mind is affected by sense impingement, wherever there is a feeling or
sensation in the mind, just let it go. Whether those sensations are good or bad
is unimportant. It is not necessary to make anything out of those sensations,
just let them pass away and return your attention to the breath. Maintain the
awareness of the breath entering and leaving. Don't create suffering over the
breath being too long or too short, simply observe it without trying to control
or suppress it in any way. In other words, don't attach. Allow the breath to
continue as it is, and the mind will become calm. As you continue the mind will
gradually lay things down and come to rest, the breath becoming lighter and
lighter until it becomes so faint that it seems like it's not there at all. Both
the body and the mind will feel light and energized. All that will remain will
be a one-pointed knowing. You could say that the mind has changed and reached a
state of calm.
the mind is agitated, set up mindfulness and inhale deeply till there is no
space left to store any air, then release it all completely until none remains.
Follow this with another deep inhalation until you are full, then release the
air again. Do this two or three times, then re-establish concentration. The mind
should be calmer. If any more sense impressions cause agitation in the mind,
repeat the process on every occasion. Similarly with walking meditation. If
while walking, the mind becomes agitated, stop still, calm the mind,
re-establish the awareness with the meditation object and then continue walking.
Sitting and walking meditation are in essence the same, differing only in terms
of the physical posture used.
there may be doubt, so you must have sati, to be the one who knows,
continually following and examining the agitated mind in whatever form it takes.
This is to have sati. Sati watches over and takes care of the
mind. You must maintain this knowing and not be careless or wander astray, no
matter what condition the mind takes on.
trick is to have sati taking control and supervising the mind. Once the
mind is unified with sati a new kind of awareness will emerge. The mind
that has developed calm is held in check by that calm, just like a chicken held
in a coop...the chicken is unable to wander outside, but it can still move
around within the coop. Its walking to and fro doesn't get it into trouble
because it is restrained by the coop. Likewise the awareness that takes place
when the mind has sati and is calm does not cause trouble. None of the
thinking or sensations that take place within the calm mind cause harm or
people don't want to experience any thoughts or feelings at all, but this is
going too far. Feelings arise within the state of calm. The mind is both
experiencing feelings and calm at the same time, without being disturbed. When
there is calm like this there are no harmful consequences. Problems occur when
the "chicken" gets out of the "coop." For instance, you may
be watching the breath entering and leaving and then forget yourself, allowing
the mind to wander away from the breath, back home, off to the shops or to any
number of different places. Maybe even half an hour may pass before you suddenly
realize you're supposed to be practicing meditation and reprimand yourself for
your lack of sati. This is where you have to be really careful, because
this is where the chicken gets out of the coop -- the mind leaves its base of
must take care to maintain the awareness with sati and try to pull the
mind back. Although I use the words "pull the mind back," in fact the
mind doesn't really go anywhere, only the object of awareness has changed. You
must make the mind stay right here and now. As long as there is sati
there will be presence of mind. It seems like you are pulling the mind back but
really it hasn't gone anywhere, it has simply changed a little. It seems that
the mind goes here and there, but in fact the change occurs right at the one
spot. When sati is regained, in a flash you are back with the mind
without it having to be brought from anywhere.
there is total knowing, a continuous and unbroken awareness at each and every
moment, this is called presence of mind. If your attention drifts from the
breath to other places then the knowing is broken. Whenever there is awareness
of the breath the mind is there. With just the breath and this even and
continuous awareness you have presence of mind.
must be both sati and sampajaņņa. Sati is recollection
and sampajaņņa is self awareness. Right now you are clearly aware of
the breath. This exercise of watching the breath helps sati and sampajaņņa
develop together. They share the work. Having both sati and sampajaņņa
is like having two workers to lift a heavy plank of wood. Suppose there are two
people trying to lift some heavy planks, but the weight is so great, they have
to strain so hard, that it's almost unendurable. Then another person, imbued
with goodwill, sees them and rushes in to help. In the same way, when there is sati
and sampajaņņa, then paņņa (wisdom) will arise at the same
place to help out. Then all three of them support each other.
paņņa there will be an understanding of sense objects. For instance,
during the meditation sense objects are experienced which give rise to feelings
and moods. You may start to think of a friend, but then paņņa should
immediately counter with "It doesn't matter," "Stop" or
"Forget it." Or if there are thoughts about where you will go
tomorrow, then the response would be, "I'm not interested, I don't want to
concern myself with such things." Maybe you start thinking about other
people, then you should think, "No, I don't want to get involved."
"Just let go," or "It's all uncertain and never a sure
thing." This is how you should deal with things in meditation, recognizing
them as "not sure, not sure," and maintaining this kind of awareness.
must give up all the thinking, the inner dialogue and the doubting. Don't get
caught up in these things during the meditation. In the end all that will remain
in the mind in its purest form are sati, sampajaņņa and paņņa.
whenever these things weaken doubts will arise, but try to abandon those doubts
immediately, leaving only sati, sampajaņņa and paņņa.
Try to develop sati like this until it can be maintained at all times.
Then you will understand sati, sampajaņņa and samadhi
the attention at this point you will see sati, sampajaņņa, samadhi
and paņņa together. Whether you are attracted to or repelled by
external sense objects, you will be able to tell yourself, "It's not
sure." Either way they are just hindrances to be swept away till the mind
is clean. all that should remain is sati, recollection; sampajaņņa,
clear awareness; samadhi, the firm and unwavering mind; and paņņa,
or consummate wisdom. For the time being I will say just this much on the
subject of meditation.
about the tools or aids to meditation practice -- there should be metta
(goodwill) in your heart, in other words, the qualities of generosity, kindness
and helpfulness. These should be maintained as the foundation for mental purity.
For example, begin doing away with lobha, or selfishness, through giving.
When people are selfish they aren't happy. Selfishness leads to a sense of
discontent, and yet people tend to be very selfish without realizing how it
can experience this at any time, especially when you are hungry. Suppose you get
some apples and you have the opportunity to share them with a friend; you think
it over for a while, and, sure, the intention to give is there all right, but
you want to give the smaller one. To give the big one would be...well, such a
shame. It's hard to think straight. You tell them to go ahead and take one, but
then you say, "Take this one!"...and give them the smaller apple! This
is one form of selfishness that people usually don't notice. Have you ever been
really have to go against the grain to give. Even though you may really only
want to give the smaller apple, you must force yourself to give away the bigger
one. Of course, once you have given it to your friend you feel good inside.
Training the mind by going against the grain in this way requires
self-discipline -- you must know how to give and how to give up, not allowing
selfishness to stick. Once you learn how to give, if you are still hesitating
over which fruit to give, then while you are deliberating you will be troubled,
and even if you give the bigger one, there will still be a sense of reluctance.
But as soon as you firmly decide to give the bigger one the matter is over and
done with. This is going against the grain in the right way.
this you win mastery over yourself. If you can't do it you will be a victim of
yourself and continue to be selfish. All of us have been selfish in the past.
This is a defilement which needs to be cut off. In the Pali scriptures, giving
is called "dana," which means bringing happiness to others. It
is one of those conditions which help to cleanse the mind from defilement.
Reflect on this and develop it in your practice.
may think that practicing like this involves hounding yourself, but it doesn't
really. Actually it's hounding craving and the defilements. If defilements arise
within you, you have to do something to remedy them. Defilements are like a
stray cat. If you give it as much food as it wants it will always be coming
around looking for more food, but if you stop feeding it, after a couple of days
it'll stop coming around. It's the same with the defilements, they won't come to
disturb you, they'll leave your mind in peace. So rather than being afraid of
defilement, make the defilements afraid of you. To make the defilements afraid
of you, you must see the Dhamma within your minds.
does the Dhamma arise? It arises with our knowing and understanding in this way.
Everyone is able to know and understand the Dhamma. It's not something that has
to be found in books, you don't have to do a lot of study to see it, just
reflect right now and you can see what I am talking about. Everybody can see it
because it exists right within our hearts. Everybody has defilements, don't
they? If you are able to see them then you can understand. In the past you've
looked after and pampered your defilements, but now you must know your
defilements and not allow them to come and bother you.
next constituent of practice is moral restraint (sila). Sila
watches over and nurtures the practice in the same way as parents look after
their children. Maintaining moral restraint means not only to avoid harming
others but also to help and encourage them. At the very least you should
maintain the five precepts, which are:
Not only to kill or deliberately harm others, but to spread goodwill towards all
To be honest, refraining from infringing on the rights of others, in other
words, not stealing.
Knowing moderation in sexual relations: In the household life there exists the
family structure, based around husband and wife. Know who your husband or wife
is, know moderation, know the proper bounds of sexual activity. Some people
don't know the limits. One husband or wife isn't enough, they have to have a
second or third. The way I see it, you can't consume even one partner
completely, so to have two or three is just plain indulgence. You must try to
cleanse the mind and train it to know moderation. Knowing moderation is true
purity, without it there are no limits to your behavior. When eating delicious
food, don't dwell too much on how it tastes, think of your stomach and consider
how much is appropriate to its needs. If you eat too much you get trouble, so
you must know moderation. Moderation is the best way. Just one partner is
enough, two or three is an indulgence and will only cause problems.
To be honest in speech -- this is also a tool for eradicating defilements. You
must be honest and straight, truthful and upright.
To refrain from taking intoxicants. You must know restraint and preferably give
these things up altogether. People are already intoxicated enough with their
families, relatives and friends, material possessions, wealth and all the rest
of it. That's quite enough already without making things worse by taking
intoxicants as well. These things just create darkness in the mind. those who
take large amounts should try to gradually cut down and eventually give it up
altogether. Maybe I should ask your forgiveness, but my speaking in this way is
out of a concern for your benefit, so that you can understand that which is
good. You need to know what is what. What are the things that are oppressing you
in your everyday lives? What are the actions which cause this oppression? Good
actions bring good results and bad actions bring bad results. These are the
moral restraint is pure there will be a sense of honesty and kindness towards
others. This will bring about contentment and freedom from worries and remorse.
Remorse resulting from aggressive and hurtful behavior will not be there. This
is form of happiness. It is almost like a heavenly state. There is comfort, you
eat and sleep in comfort with the happiness arising from moral restraint. This
is the result; maintaining moral restraint is the cause. This is a principle of
Dhamma practice -- refraining from bad actions so that goodness can arise. If
moral restraint is maintained in this way, evil will disappear and good will
arise in its place. This is the result of right practice.
this isn't the end of the story. Once people have attained some happiness they
tend to be heedless and not go any further in the practice. They get stuck on
happiness. They don't want to progress any further, they prefer the happiness of
"heaven." It's comfortable but there's no real understanding. You must
keep reflecting to avoid being deluded. Reflect again and again on the
disadvantages of this happiness. It's transient, it doesn't last forever. Soon
you are separated from it. It's not a sure thing, once happiness disappears then
suffering arises in its place and the tears come again. Even heavenly beings end
up crying and suffering.
the Lord Buddha taught us to reflect on the disadvantages, that there exists an
unsatisfactory side to happiness. Usually when this kind of happiness is
experienced there is no real understanding of it. The peace that is truly
certain and lasting is covered over by this deceptive happiness. This happiness
is not a certain or permanent kind of peace, but rather a form of defilement, a
refined form of defilement to which we attach. Everybody likes to be happy.
Happiness arises because of our liking for something. As soon as that liking
changes to dislike, suffering arises. We must reflect on this happiness to see
its uncertainty and limitation. Once things change suffering arises. This
suffering is also uncertain, don't think that it is fixed or absolute. This kind
of reflection is called Adinavakatha,. the reflection on the inadequacy
and limitation of the conditioned world. This means to reflect on happiness
rather than accepting it at face value. Seeing that it is uncertain, you
shouldn't cling fast to it. You should take hold of it but then let it go,
seeing both the benefit and the harm of happiness. To meditate skillfully you
have to see the disadvantages inherent within happiness. Reflect in this way.
When happiness arises, contemplate it thoroughly until the disadvantages become
you see that things are imperfect your heart will come to understand the Nekkhammakatha,
the reflection on renunciation. The mind will become disinterested and seek for
a way out. Disinterest comes from having seen the way forms really are, the way
tastes really are, the way love and hatred really are. By disinterest we mean
that there is no longer the desire to cling to or attach to things. There is a
withdrawal from clinging, to a point where you can abide comfortably, observing
with an equanimity that is free of attachment. This is the peace that arises