The real Buddhism is not temples, or statues of Buddha, or giving alms, or ceremonies. While these are all worthwhile, they do not answer the question, what is the real Buddhism? If we say that the real Buddhism is the practice of meditation using mindfulness and clear comprehension to realize wisdom - and thus erase all defilement, and end suffering - we are getting closer. But we still are not there.
If we say that the real Buddhism is matter (rupa) and mind (nama) - then we are getting a little more close; but even this is not entirely satisfactory. The world 'nama' might still convey the notion of a mind that is compact, all of one piece, doing all these different mental functions. In order to give a truer picture of the mind, nama must be expressed as mental states (cittas), each arising separately, and each different from the other: the mental state that sees is not the same as the mental state that hears, the mental state is wandering mind is different from the mental state that observes body (rupa) in practice, etc. 'We', our entire existence, at any given time is simply the arising of one of these mental states, which is quickly replaced by another.
But mental state (citta) is still not enough. Mental states (cittas) are actually made up of 52 different mental properties, called cetasikas. (For example, contact, feeling, perception, etc. are cetasikas.) So now, our true definition of nama becomes citta cetasika. We may now add rupa to our definition of Buddhist reality, and so we get citta cetasika and rupa. But citta, cetasika and rupa, is still not the whole 'picture'. If we practice success fully (realize rupa and nama are not 'us') we will reach a state where a brief path-moment arises that erases defilements. This path moment has nibbana as an object, and this nibbana is also a part of Buddhist reality.
Thus, our final definition of Buddhist reality now becomes mind-body and enlightenment - or to state it in Pali, the language of Buddhism: citta, cetasika, rupa and nibbana. These four things, in Buddhism, are ultimate reality. This means they are those things in the universe that are 'real' - that is, they do not require concepts to understand. So, every living thing in the universe is made up of the first three of these - citta, cetasika and rupa. Nibbana - which is the object of the path moment that erases defilement in each of the four stages of enlightenment - is the fourth part of ultimate reality: citta, cetasika, rupa, and nibbana. (It is important to know that nibbana is just an object of the mind at a certain stage of wisdom. It actually appears as a very brief moment of peace and stillness - and its nature is no defilement.)
The purpose in Buddhism of the first three (citta, cetasika, and rupa) is to demonstrate that 'you' are really made up of many parts (rapidly-changing mental states and rapidly-changing matter), and since none of these parts are 'you', the parts together are not 'you' either. The science in Buddhism that divides body and mind into smaller and smaller parts is called Abbhidhamma: this science helps to better see that 'we' are not man, not woman, not-self, etc.
Our first definition of Buddhism then is that this ultimate reality (citta, cetasika, rupa and nibbana) is Buddhism - real Buddhism.
Every living thing in the world answers to his mind-matter definition (citta, cetasika and rupa). Non-living things are just matter, rupa. Even though people do not know this definition, may never have even heard of Buddhism, they are still citta, cetasika, rupa, and nibbana still exists as a state the mind (citta and cetasika) can reach when the mind has absolute purity. Now, having read this simple explanation of the real Buddhism, you can, it is hoped, progress with a little more confidence to our teacher's more technical discussion of this important subject, which is described in the following paragraphs.
Buddhism can be defined in two ways:
1) The true state of the nature of the world, and
2) The teaching of the Lord Buddha.
1) The true state of the nature of the world.
The Lord Buddha said 'Sabbha dhamma anatta'. This means, literally, 'all dhamma (things) are without self.' Thus, we can see that the four elements of ultimate reality in the universe - mind (citta and cetasika), matter (rupa), and enlightenment (nibbana) - all have the same single characteristic: they are without self.
These four elements are the true state of the nature of the world (sabhava dhamma) - i.e., no self, no man, no woman, no dog, etc. Sabhava, in this easy, refers mainly to not self, not man, not woman, etc. Not self is the only one of the Three Characteristics (impermanence, suffering, not self) that fits all four of the elements of ultimate reality. This is because nibbana is supra mundane: permanent, and happy, but not self. Citta, cetasika and rupa is mundane: impermanent, suffering and not self.
a) Everybody has three of the above four things, citta, cetasika and rupa. Or these four can be summarized as body and mind (rupa and nama). Or in more detail, they can be broken down into five parts called aggregates: body, feeling, perception volition, and consciousness. These three (citta, cetasika and rupa) keep us on the wheel of rebirth that is a continual round of birth, old age, sickness and death. These three occur because of cause and aiding condition; they always depend on each other (body can't act without mind, mind is helpless without body, for example); and they arise and immediately fall away, continuously through life. This happens every moment (split-second), and because it happens whether we are aware of it or not, it is called mundane dhamma. This true state of the nature (sabhava) does not occur because of god or Brahma or any other miraculous intervention.
The Five Aggregates, or body-mind (rupa nama), are suffering (dukkha sacca) ('sacca means 'truth', thus dukkha sacca is the truth of suffering - the first Noble Truth). The Five Aggregates are the real dukkha sacca and they are the result of cause. That cause is craving, as stated in the Second Noble Truth, the truth of the cause of suffering. The real creator of rupa and nama is defilement. Defilement is craving or, in practice the defilements are desire, aversion, and delusion. It is only from defilement that body and mind are created. This body mine (Five Aggregates) is what we conventionally think is a man or woman, or this person or that, or this nation or that. That which creates (defilement) and that which is created (Five Aggregates) has the three characteristics - impermanence, suffering, and not self and they are natural law. There is no exception to this for any being.
b) Nibbana however is ultimate reality (sabhava dhamma) and is outside the Five Aggregates that is to say, outside the 'world' (Buddha said that, for each being the 'world' is really the Five Aggregates, since everything we experience comes through them. This 'world' can be called the 'aggregates-world' or the 'rupa nama world'.)
Nibbana is an object of the path moment that erases defilement, and hence suffering - this occurs at the fourteenth of the sixteen-vipassana knowledge's (yanas) and the fruition, or savouring, which follows it (fifteenth yana). Nibbana is called supra mundane because it is the dhamma that extinguishes defilement and hence suffering. Nibbana is permanent and happy. But it is not a man or woman - not self.
This is real Buddhism. Prince Siddhartha discovered the wisdom that is the Four Noble Truths by himself. Nobody taught him. Hence, he is called 'Phra Arahant Sammasambuddha' ('Enlightened by his own efforts')
2) The teachings of the Buddha.
This is the second way Buddhism can be defined. The Lord Buddha's teachings are beneficial in three ways, depending on which of these fit your particular character:
a) Beneficial for this life.
b) Beneficial for the next life.
c) Beneficial for the highest good, or nibbana, which ends suffering.
An example of a) above is the sutta - teaching about not getting angry. The Buddha taught non-hatred. 'Don't hurt your mind', said the Buddha. Anger only hurts you, not the other person.
An example of b) above are the teachings concerning morality and the practice of concentration development, in meditation.
Regarding, c) above the Buddha taught the way to reach nibbana - the kind of happiness that does not turn into suffering anymore, where happiness and suffering are mixed.
In this essay we will only discuss nibbana to end suffering. The real suffering is the Five Aggregates, or body and mind (rupa and nama). When the Five Aggregates are extinguished completely, final, or complete nibbana is reached. An example of this is the Lord Buddha and fully enlightened ones (arahants) of the Buddha's time. They will never be reborn again to experience suffering.
And what why did the Lord Buddha teach to end suffering?
He thought morality, concentration, and wisdom (clear comprehension) in the Eight-Fold Path.
Why must it be morality, concentration, and wisdom in the Eight-Fold Path?
These three elements, when they are in the Eight-Fold Path are the Middle Way, which is necessary to reach the Four Noble Truths.
The Eight-Fold Path is called the Middle Way, and is the 'one and the only way' to reach the Four Noble Truths and end suffering.
The Middle Way means avoidance of the two extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification that the Buddha found among Hindu yogis in his day. These yogis thought self-mortification would destroy desire and self-indulgence would destroy hatred. The Middle Way also means avoiding like or dislike.
What is the benefit of realizing the Four Noble Truths?
The benefit is the end of suffering. This is done when the path-moment that has nibbana as its object erases all remaining defilement and ends suffering (4th Path). Nibbana is very happy because there is no rebirth.
What do you mean by very happy?
The kind of happiness that does not turn into suffering anymore, like mundane happiness. The Lord Buddha said, 'nibbana is very happy'.
How does happiness come about?
Because nibbana has no Five Aggregates: the Five Aggregates are the real truth of suffering (dukkha sacca). If you don't have the Five Aggregates, you don't have any suffering - such as old age, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, etc., that's why nibbana is happy. It's not like the mundane world. Where happiness and suffering are mixed. Nibbana is the highest good in Buddhism.
Morality, concentration, and wisdom comprise the Eight-Fold Path. Which comes first? Should we practice morality until we are purified, and realize concentration and wisdom later?
Morality, concentration, and wisdom in the Eight-Fold Path have to go together not just one at a time. It's like a pill with three ingredients: we take them all at once. Concentration-type meditation is peaceful, with rapture - especially for the one who reaches absorption (very high state of concentration). It is very happy. So why do we say only nibbana is happy?
While concentration-type meditation is wholesome and it destroys mental defilements (hindrances) it is just temporarily peaceful, lasting only as long as the hindrances are suppressed. The happiness depends on the level of absorption.
But that happiness is still in the wheel of suffering.
Meditation to reach absorption existed before Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha practiced this concentration meditation until he reached the highest absorption (the eighth) but he realized that absorption could not destroy hidden defilements. Then he found the Eight-Fold Path and realized the Four Noble Truths - and thus, enlightenment. He then said, 'This is my last life'. And so, because enlightenment (nibbana) extinguishes defilement and hence suffering - and ends the round of rebirth - we say only nibbana is happy.
In all the world's philosophies, wisdom that ends suffering is found only in Buddhism. How can we prove this? The Eight-Fold Path, properly followed, destroys defilements that are the cause of suffering. Defilements can only be destroyed with wisdom.
When practice is perfect, wisdom develops and that wisdom (insight or vipassana wisdom) destroys defilement. Only Buddhism can completely destroy defilement - i.e. reach nibbana. This is proof that the practice of the Eight-Fold Path develops wisdom.
The last questions have to do with the important subject of nibbana.
a) What is nibbana?
b) Where is nibbana?
c) How are you going to see nibbana?
(That is, if you believe nibbana exists.)
These are good questions to ask, because all Buddhists want to end suffering. To end suffering you want to reach nibbana. We will answer these questions briefly, but when you practice successfully, you will understand better.
a) What is nibbana?
Nibbana is the object of a brief path-moment. Nibbana is ultimate reality, or the true state of the nature of things. This path-moment that has nibbana as an object, extinguishes defilement and ends suffering. Suffering is 'us' (nama-rupa). If there is no 'us' (nama-rupa) there is no suffering such as old age, sickness, and death, etc, - because there are no Five Aggregates in the state of nibbana. The Five Aggregates are the real suffering (dukkha-sacca).
Each of us is composed of these Five Aggregates: body, feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness. Or more simply, these Five Aggregates are body (rupa) and mind (nama). (The last four of the above five are mind.) The Five Aggregates are the truth of suffering (dukkha-sacca, or First Noble Truth). Dukkha-sacca exists but we generally don't see it. It is caused by defilement (craving) and that defilement creates us. That defilement that creates us stays with us a long time - unless something is done about it.
b) Where is nibbana?
Nibbana is not a place. It's not anywhere. Nobody, even one who has superpowers can tell where nibbana is. Nibbana is not in heaven; it is like the wind: you only know it by its effects. Nibbana is the object of this path-moment. It is a mind object of this path-moment.
The ordinary person is saturated in defilement, but when he does vipassana practice and vipassana wisdom occurs, his mind becomes purified. This is called path-moment and path-fruition. These two have nibbana as an object (the 14th and 15th of the 16 vipassana knowledge's equals nama or 'yanas' in Thai).
Nibbana is not mind. It's just the object of mind. When vipassana wisdom is very strong, the mind of the ordinary person changes to the mind of the Noble One. This change is called path-moment. It is followed immediately by path-fruition. Both have nibbana as their object. When the cause of suffering is extinguished, suffering (the result) is extinguished by the particular path-moment for that path. The four paths to enlightenment are stream-winner, once-return, non-return, and fully-enlightened or Perfect One (the Arahant). There are ten fetters keeping us from full enlightenment:
1) Wrong view of self
2) Doubt about the Buddha's teaching
3) Adherence to rites and rituals
(These refer to any belief that any ceremony such as lighting incense or any ritual behaviour or worship can lead to nibbana.)
4) Sensual desire
6) Desire for fine material existence
7) Desire for immaterial existence
(Fine material existence is an existence where there is still body. Immaterial existence is where there is only nama. So both of these fetters (6 and 7) refer to craving for types of heavenly existence.)
Thus, for the First Path, the stream-winner path-moment erases the first three fetters; for the Second path, the once-return path-moment weakens the next two fetters; for the Third Path, the non-return path moment erases the two weakened fetters; and for the Fourth Path, the arahatta Path moment erases the five remaining fetters.
c) How are you going to see nibbana?
In order to see nibbana, you must practice the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (satipatthana) in the right way. If practiced correctly satipatthana is the only way to enlightenment. The Lord Buddha said; 'Bhikkhus, this path (as laid down in the Mahasatipatthana Discourse) is the one and only way for the purification of being.'
Satipatthana is the first of, and the foundation of, the Thirty-Seven Qualities Contributing to Enlightenment. And the Thirty-Seven Qualities lead to realizing the Four Noble Truths, as the Lord Buddha did. When the mind is purified of defilement, you will know by yourself - you won't need anyone to tell you - because nibbana is the true nature (sabhava) and that is realizing by yourself. In the monk's chant, this is 'Paccatan veditabbo vinnuhi' ('to be seen each man for himself').
Arahant - one who has reached the Fourth Path: a fully enlightened one.
Anicca, dukkha, anatta - (see Three Characteristics)
Bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma - The Thirty-Seven Qualities leading to enlightenment. They begin with satipatthana, go through the seven factors, and end up with the Eight-Fold Path, where the Four Noble Truths are realized, and suffering is ended.
Cetasika - One of the 52 mental properties, in varying combination they make up the 89-120 types of consciousness (citta).
2. Mental state.
3. Types of consciousness (citta-cetasika. in this definition, citta cannot be alone).
Four-Noble Truths - Ariya Sacca:
1. Dukkha Sacca (Truth of Suffering)
2. Samudaya Sacca (Truth of the Cause of Suffering)
3. Nirodha Sacca (Truth of the Cessation of Suffering)
4. Magga Sacca (Truth of the Path to end Suffering)
Five Aggregates - (See Khandas)
Jhana - trance: absorption meditation leading to deep tranquility - and ultimately to cessation of the Aggregates (khandas).
1. Any of the 5 causally conditioned elements (aggregates) forming a being or entity.
2. Pancakkhandha. The Five Aggregates, or five groups of existence: body (rupa), feeling (vedana), perception (sanna), mental formations (sankhara), and consciousness (vinnana).
Kilesa - Defilements: desire (lobha), hatred (dohsa), delusion; wrong view (moha). There are 3 types of kilesa: obvious, mental (nivarana), and hidden (asavas).
1. Extinction of certain defilements by momentary path moment (magga-citta) - occurring in each of the 4 stages (stream-winner, once-return, etc.).
2. State reached by the arahant while still alive; also called full or complete nibbana.
3. End of all suffering - after death: called paranibbana (also khandas - paranibbaba because khandas are extinguished).
Paranibbana - (see nibbana)
1. Matter and form.
2. In practice, the body as matter and from.
Sabbha dhamma anatta - All (sabbha) dhamma is without self.
Sabhava - the: true state of the nature; ultimate reality.
Satipatthana - The Four Foundations of mind-fullness: body and mind (dhamma).
Tanha - craving: the cause of suffering in the Four Noble Truths.
Three Characteristics - impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and not self (anatta).
1. Insight equals vipassana wisdom.
2. Result of satipatthana, as expressed in the Seven Purities or the Sixteen vipassana nanas.
3. Meditation - referring to Satipatthana practice.
Yana - Thai, pronunciation of the world 'nana', knowledge - one of the 16 nanas.
Yogavacara - The 3 nama: earnestness, mind fullness, and clear comprehension; also atapi; sati, and sampajanna.
The following is a transcript of a: tape recorded speech by Mahaviro, a 28-year-old English monk, who spent two months practicing at Boonkanjanaram Meditation Centre, near Pattaya City, Chonburi Province, Thailand.
Mahaviro (also known as Mr. Mike) briefly discusses the life of Lord Buddha, and his teachings; Mr. Mike discusses vipassana practice in general, followed by the results of his own practice.
This is the story of the Lord Buddha and his teachings, which he said we should not just blindly believe; and the personal experiences of a foreigner in the Buddhist country of Thailand who decided to investigate these teachings and prove them for himself by becoming a monk and living in a meditation centre in the central Thai province of Chonburi.
I am not going to attempt to make this a detailed biography of Buddha, or a complete set of instructions on how to meditate, as both of these are very deep subjects. But I feel I should give a brief historical and theoretical outline of Buddhism to provide a background on which to see more clearly the description of my practice.
Buddha was born in the 6th century B.C. as Prince Siddhartha among the Sakyan people, probably at their capital, which is modern day Nepal. His family name was Gautama, and he grew up amongst riches, pleasure and power. However, when he reached his early twenties he saw a sick man, an old man, a corpse, and a wandering ascetic. Because of his sheltered life, these had a deep effect on him, as he realized that no wealth or power could prevent him too from experiencing, old age and death.
India at that time was made up of different warrior states and the more powerful ones were constantly conquering others to make fewer, bigger states. Big cities started to appear, and a class system evolved in the cosmopolitan environment. There were four main levels of societies; the Brahmins, who were the priests and intellectuals, the Sakyas, whose duty it was to fight and rule (this was class of the Buddha's family), the commoners, producers and farmers, and the lowest class of the four, the servants. These all had definite functions and positions in society, but there was another set of people who didn't really fit in anywhere, the ascetics. These homeless wanderers were the centre of the highly intellectual atmospheres of India at that time. There were even public debating halls where they met to discuss the many different philosophical and religious beliefs that they held. However, they all had one common goal, which was Amatta, or Deathlessness and the ending of suffering. It was because of this that the Buddha decided to join this group of people after he saw the suffering that had such a deep effect on him.
He wandered towards the centres of population along the Ganges River, and the real contact he had with the ascetics was with two yogi meditation teachers, who taught him absorption, or jhana meditation. Jhana meditation has eight levels: four rupa (or in the fine material sphere), and four arupa (or in the immaterial sphere). The rupa levels begin at the first one, with five perceptions: thought conceptions, discursive thinking, rapture, happiness and concentration. These five are gradually lost through the various levels of jhana. By the 7th level arupa it reaches the 'sphere of nothingness' and in the 8th and final level it is described as the sphere of 'neither perception nor non perception.' In short, the meditator sits for long periods of time and enters a trance which becomes deeper and as he reaches the various levels.
The Buddha quickly became as skilful at this as his teachers; but he rejected this type of meditation. Why, because they were temporary states, which he found could still not truly end suffering. He was searching for a 'self', which he still had not found. But there was still another possible way of self-realization, which was practiced by some ascetics. This was self-mortification, which involved fasting to purify the soul and achieve freedom from pain. So the Buddha tried this, and the record leaves no doubt about the sincerity of his efforts. The description in the Suttapitaka says: 'My spine stood out like a corded rope, my ribs projected like the jutting rafters of an old roofless cowshed, and the light of my eyes, sunk down in their sockets, looked like the gleam of water sunk in a deep well'. That was all he achieved though, and as far as spiritual enlightenment was concerned, he didn't get anywhere. He broke his fast when a passing dairymaid gave him some hot milk and rice. The conclusion that he reached was that the extremes of sense pleasure and self-mortification were not the answer. He realized that the answer lay with the Middle Way, or in Pali, the language that the he probably used, majjhima-patipada. This involved a certain amount of self-discipline, but at the same time nourishing and keeping the body healthy, so that the mind could also be healthy and function properly and clearly.
So it was that by this Middle Way, the Buddha reached the awakening (enlightenment or nibbana) one night of a full moon, under the huge Bodhi tree at Gaya. He discovered the Four Noble Truths. These are:
1) The truth of suffering (Dukkha-sacca) which is that all of us, body and mind or rupa and nama (which consists of the Five Aggregates, or body feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness) are suffering, or dukkha. Without rupa and nama or the Five Aggregates, suffering cannot occur.
2) The truth of the cause of suffering (Samudaya-Sacca). Which is craving, or desire (tanha).
3) The truth of the ending or extinction of suffering (Nirodha-sacca). And finally,
4) The path or way to the end of suffering, which is the Eight-Fold Path (Magga-Sacca).
The Four Noble Truths are more fully explained in a book, Vipassana Bhavana, published by Boonkanjanaram Meditation centre in Chonburi, Thailand. Or in England, copies can be obtained at Wat Amarawadi in the county of Hertfordshire. (This is a Thai Buddhist temple.)
The Buddha also came to the conclusion that there is no permanent self, and that all; compound things are impermanent suffering and without self. He then taught for forty-five years and founded the order of monks. When he died (Parinibbana is the special Pali word to describe the death of a fully-enlightened one), he died of mortal causes like anybody else; but he was not reborn, because he had reached nibbana.
So, where is the evidence to prove this story of a man who lived over two and a half thousand years ago? Well, all the information that we have comes from a work of literature that, in its original form, would fill several libraries, the Tripitaka. 'Tri', 'three', 'Pitaka', or 'baskets'- The Three Baskets: Vinayapitaka, or basket of the Disciplinary Code, which includes the 227 rules for monks; Suttapitaka, or basket of discourses, which covers the story of the Buddha's life and the various conversations he had with different people, and Abbhidhamma-pitaka, or the basket of Higher Doctrine, which is Pure Philosophy.
But this was not written down until three or four hundred years after the Buddha's death. Until it was written down it was verbally chanted, and so memorized by the monks, who held five great councils to discuss and check the teachings. The first of these councils was held three months after Parinibbana and lasted for seven months. There was almost certainly another one a hundred years later, and at the 5th council, the monks wrote it all down on pages of palm leaf, which lasts for a long time.
So, after that rough outline of the life of the Buddha, my life story is going to sound rather insignificant, but I will tell you a little about myself, just to make the whole picture more complete. When I left school, I wanted to be a farmer. I had a romantic vision of a life close to nature and earth, walking about on my farm or driving a tractor, providing food for a grateful population, who would pay me money to live a comfortable and healthy life. However, I soon discovered that working in farms was always outside, whatever the weather - snow, rain or hot sun; that it gave me blisters on my hands and very little money, which I was too tired to spend in the little spare time that I had - certainly not enough money to save up and buy my farm. In fact you could say that I discovered the First Noble Truth of suffering in my own little way. But it could not have been so bad, because I worked and studied in different areas of agriculture and horticulture for seven years until I was twenty-five. Then I wanted to travel and see a really different culture outside of Europe for the experience, while I was still young. I heard about a volunteer organization called V.S.O. that sends people with technical skills overseas to different countries around the world, so I applied to them for work. When they telephoned and asked if wanted to go to Thailand, I could not decide, as I knew so little about the place - even where it was. I had an idea that Thai people ate rice, there was a film about the country called 'the King and I', and Siamese cats came from there. But I thought that, if I did not go, I would probably miss a wonderful opportunity. So, I arrived in the middle of the floods of the 1983 rainy season, and went straight to Pakchong, Nakhon Ratchasima, for a Thai language course. Then I came to work as a teacher at Chonburi Agricultural Collage for two years. Every chance that I had, I travelled around the country to see Thai culture and festivals like Songkran and Loi Krathong. I was impressed by how important religion is for Thai people and the way they support the monks. I saw how even the poorest people put food in their alms bowls in the morning. One of the most common Thai expressions is 'mai pen rai' or 'never mind', and this is used whenever a problem (even one that would seem quite serious to me) comes along. So, thinking that there must be a strong connection between the religion and the natural character, I became interested in Buddhism, reading books and talking to Thai friends about it. Then I heard that there was a temple in the Northeast where there are many Western monks and the teaching is in English. So after thinking long and hard about this, I decided to ordain for a while, to challenge what the Buddha said; 'See for yourself, prove, but don't just blindly believe'. I met an American Peace Crops volunteer who had just come from that temple, Wat Ba Na Na Chat in Ubon, and he told me that you must be a layman for four months before you could ordain. At about the same time, a teacher at the collage introduced me to his uncle who is the head monk at this meditation centre, and as it is in an area I know, with friends near by, it seemed a better idea to ordain to be a monk here. So here I am; I have been hear for two months, learning the theory and practice of vipassana, constantly, day and night. I have really been very lucky, as all the circumstances have been in my favour. A lesson every day with Mr. Chua, my teacher, Mr. Frank Tullius who has been practicing here for three years and Miss Vitoon, teacher and translator. Another monk, Phra Thmarakita has been teaching me the patimoke rules of discipline. All of them were students of the late Aachan Naeb, a widely known expert on Abbhidhamma and teacher, who developed the practice. Also Mr. Chua, Mr. Frank Tullius and Miss Vitoon recently wrote a book in English, Vipassana Bhavana, about the theory, practice, and result of vipassana, based on the teachings of the Mr. Chua, translated by Miss Vitoon and English finally double-checked by Mr. Frank Tullius.
At the centre, the method of meditation is based in the Mahasatipatthana Discourse, or Great Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, a very long and important discourse from the Suttapitaka. These foundations of mindfulness consist of four main objects, which the practitioner can meditate on. These four are; Body (Kaya), Feeling (Vedana), Mind (Citta), and Mind and Body (Dhamma). Which object to use depends on the practitioner's character, and these are classified into four types. However, Aachan Naed said that in these modern times of materialism, everybody now has tanha (craving) with weak wisdom. So, at this centre, we only observe Kaya, because it is easy to see. The Pali word for material objects and the body is rupa and the mind is called nama. We can say that a person has nama or that which knows, and rupa, or that which is known. The practice is to observe rupa all the time in the present moment. There are four major positions, hence: sitting rupa, standing rupa, walking rupa and lying rupa; and also some minor positions, which can be used later. It is not deep concentration or going into a trance, or anything mystical like, but just nama being mindful of rupa - observing rupa, but making any special effort to control it. It is like watching an actor in a play. You watch the play and nothing else. Only the stage lights are on and the rest of the theatre is in darkness, but you cannot control what the actor is doing. Of course, if you watch a play, there are all ways things, which take you attention away from the action on the stage. For example, the person next to you might open a bag of sweets noisily. Well, it's just the same in practice; a dog barks or a monk in bright orange robes walks past, or your mind just wanders off to another story. If you just know these things happen without getting too involved in them, they should just go away. And nama will just naturally come, back to the object. So, if a dog barks, just know 'nama hearing' and come back. Or you starting thinking about a friend of yours, or a film you once saw, just know 'nama wandering', and back you will come if you don't follow the story.
So far I have described the method of this kind of meditation and it is easy enough to understand in theory, if not so easy in practise at first. But the reason for practicing like this is to see sabhava, or ultimate reality, the truth which is that you, or what you call 'me' is not 'me' at all, but just rupa and nama, body and mind. Ultimately, there is no man or woman, child or self. Now this is where you think I've gone mad and stop reading, and I'll admit that it's not a very satisfactory explanation, but it's just one of those things that words can't explain with much success. My teacher told me this on my first day here, and I was very doubtful, but now that I have followed the practise, I can understand what he was talking about much better. The best I can do is to describe my practice and some of the things that happened, and then you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to prove it for yourself. The Buddha said that it was most important that nobody believed blindly what they were told, without proving it for themselves first. He said 'Know not by hearsay, nor by tradition not by indulgence in speculation, nor because you honour the world of an ascetic, but know for yourself'. It would be impossible to explain, say, the taste of sugar to someone who had never tasted sweetness before. You can give him or her some sugar, just like a teacher can show someone how to practice vipassana, and when they have tasted sugar, they don't need you anymore. They know for themselves the concept of sweetness.
Another important reason for practicing is to properly see three characteristics. These are that all compound things are:
2) Suffering, and
3) Without self.
Normally, it is only necessary to see just one of these in the practice to realize all three. For example, if you can see that sitting rupa gets stiff and has to change to walking rupa, you might see that sitting rupa is suffering, or unsatisfactory, because it is impermanent - and therefore that there is no self which can control the situation and enable rupa to continue sitting there all day. Incidentally, you might be thinking that amongst all this talk of no self, I am using the phrases like 'I did this' or 'I did that'. But without these words 'I' and 'me' it would be difficult to communicate, unless a new word for 'I' was invented like the one which Buddhist monks use. They say 'Attamah' which means, 'This so called self'.
Also, we must try to destroy kilesa in our practice. Kilesa means defilements: Ignorance, Greed and Hate, which come in many different forms and disguises and always do their best to cover up the truth in all situations. It's rather like a court of law where there is a judge, defendant and prosecutor. The judge must always stay neutral - he must never be affected by like and dislike for anybody that he is judging. So that if, say, his sister knows the defendant, his decisions may be affected by like and the truth will not come out.
So, by practicing sense-restraint and trying to stay in the present moment as much as possible, we can reduce like and dislike to a minimum and hope fully see sabhava, the truth. But 'hopefully' perhaps is not a good word as desiring to see this sabhava, is not a good word as desiring to see this sabhava, is just another form of 'like'. Or if our mind wanders off to some other story and we don't like it that will affect the practice too.
So although the practice here is just observing the body, which sounds easy, it can be seen that it's not easy and that one really needs a teacher.
Anyway, I will tell you how I found the practice, and some of the things that happened during the two months that I was here.
The practice here is constant; all waking hours of the day and night you are observing rupa in the four major positions and the minor positions. So you just try to practice naturally. It's not necessary to stay in home position for a long time - this would be unnatural. For example, you may be sitting on a chair or on the floor and you find that your body gets stiff and you are forced to change. So you get up and go for a walk. After a while your legs get stiff or tired from walking, so you have to go and lie down. I would like to stress this having to lie down, because in everyday life - say, we are walking - we think 'it would be nice to sit down on this seat for a rest.' So the action is carried out to seek pleasure - or is it? In this practice, it is important to try and 'Yoniso' or understand the reason why you are changing the position of your body, which is because your body is forced to go for a walk to stretch the legs. Then from walking, the body gets tired - it's suffering or unsatisfactory-dukkha - and it's forced to go and lie down. If you understand this properly, it's yoniso, and the practice is right.
I had been doing this practice for about three weeks and nothing was really happening. I still couldn't really understand the practice. I was getting all the theory and the practice of vipassana from the teacher, so I understood the theory, but I still couldn't really grasp the meaning of what he was talking about. It was a bit like someone telling me about the taste of sugar, without having actually tasted the sugar for myself. Then on the 21st of January (1986) I was just observing rupa, or the body, as usual and I realized I was always, having to change the position of my body. I realized that I wasn't lying down for pleasure; I wasn't going for a walk for a pleasure. I realized rather that my body was forced to change position all the time. It was like seeing the truth of suffering for the first time and I became very depressed, because I had not realized this aspect of change before. But when observed this all the time and the truth was not covered up by kilesa (defilements) and seeking happiness all the time, I did see this truth, that every thing I did was subject to the law of change - every position that my body is in eventually suffers - it's impermanent. I can't sit down in a chair for two hours without changing position, even if it's a very comfortable chair. Even laying down - if you observe lying rupa, they can't stay in one position for long - it has to turn over.
The next day, 22nd of January, I was observing sitting rupa in a chair, and was fairly in the present moment. Then the body position changed from sitting rupa to standing rupa. It was forced to get up because it was stiff. I suddenly had a bad shock, a sudden feeling that it was not 'me' that was changing position. It was like watching a doll, or something that wasn't me getting up and changing to a standing position. It was a bit like being on the outside of my body and watching somebody else's body getting up. It was a very strong feeling of not being myself. Everything that my teacher was talking about before, that this is not 'us', not man, woman, child or adult, no self, not me, just rupa, made much more sense.
Then on the 4th of February, I suddenly had another similar horrible sinking feeling like falling into a big hole, or like the feeling I have had in a bad dream when I suddenly fell off a cliff and my stomach sank - a strong feeling. It was similar to the one before, but much stronger and this time it didn't really feel like it was not my body - not the same - it was just a very strong feeling that I couldn't explain. Before, I felt safe and generally secure about my existence in the world; suddenly this safe, secure world crumbled and I felt very scared. The feeling only lasted for a split second, but it was so strong that I'm sure that I'll never forget it. The next day, I came to the lesson as usual and told the teacher about this experience and he explained that it was seeing the sabhava (truth) that this time, nama is not 'us' (last time it was rupa that was not 'us'). The reason I didn't know what happening at the time was because, up to now I had just been observing rupa, not nama (or very little nama). Because, if say, a dog barked, I would just know 'nama hearing', but only out of necessity, if something happened to make me out of the present moment of rupa.
The next day, I was on alms round - begging food in the early morning with another monk, and this time I had a feeling that wasn't so strong, but just that my body that was walking the alms bowl really wasn't me - like watching an actor on a stage in a play, someone I had no control over. This wasn't such a shock as before; it was just a feeling that 'that's the truth'.
On the 9th of February, I made a very big effort with the practice, always trying too hard to be in the present moment observing the four positions. I had been trying too hard for two days and nothing was happening. This was desire to see sabhava - I wanted to see something happened again, so obviously there were no results. I had a headache after all this effort, so decided to go and lie down (or looking at it the other way, rupa was forced to go and lie down.) At this time, around six in the evening, the water in the meditation centre had been running for about half an hour - there was the constant sound of water running into the water in my little house. At that moment when I went to lie down, the meditation centre staff turned the water supply off, so that noise of water splashing into the pot whet away and there was absolute, early-evening silence. The sun was setting and I could see silhouettes of coconut palms against a brilliant orange sky, through the insect screens.
Then, as I was in the process of lying down, a drip of water came out of the tap with a 'plop' into the full pot, and suddenly I had a feeling like a big electric shock. This time I immediately knew that 'this is not me hearing this drip'. It really took me by surprise, as I just was not prepared for it. It was nama hearing, some impersonal mind, not 'me' hearing. This time I didn't feel down or strange about it afterwards: I was back to normal very quickly, because now I knew the face of sabhava. I could immediately understand what had happened, that it was nama hearing, and not 'me' that heard the drip.
Several times after that when I was walking around the house I felt I was truly in the present moment. Normally, and especially outside of being mindful in meditation, my mind is constantly wandering off from the future to the past and back again, making comparisons and relating to thoughts outside of the reality of now. But at that time, concentrating on the present of the body in motion, a moment would arrive that I could 'fix' on like a photograph. Then in another step I would be aware of leaving that moment behind, spent, only to be replaced by a completely new moment with another 'walking rupa'. This was different to my normal perception of walking, or any movement, in its being like a continuous film, a movie which looks continuous, but in reality is made up of many separate still pictures; and it was like seeing these individual still pictures falling. A bit like, being on a ship and dropping a piece of wood off the side. When the wood is in your hand it is very real, but when you drop it off the side of the ship, you watch it go away and see it floating in the water, but it's somehow not real anymore. This piece of wood seems a bit like the present moment; when it becomes past, it is lost, and this is happening constantly.
The last time that something worth mentioning happened during the practice was the 26th of February (only three days ago). I was lying in bed and it was about 11.00 p.m. Now, in only one day's time from this particular day, I was to disrobe and finish being a monk, so you can imagine that my head was full of ideas of what I was going to do when I got back to England, after two-and-a-half years of being away from home - a lot of distractions to take me away from the practice. I was trying to get to sleep, and started to do the practice as somebody had told me that it was a good way to go to sleep, a bit like counting sheep. So nama was observing 'rupa laying' and then, as a cricket made a noise outside the house, attention changed to 'nama hearing' and then back to 'rupa lying'. Then I had wandering mind - mind was distracted away from rupa lying and it came up to the building where the lessons were held every day. I thought of all the different faces of the people who went to that building the teacher, Mr. Chun, Miss Vitoon and Mr. Frank. I knew this was wandering mind, and it just registered, so back it came to rupa lying. But this time, when I wanted to come back I somehow couldn't get back to any kind of 'me' lying on the bed. It was like coming back to just a doll. It was a monk lying there on the bed, but it was just a body, maybe a dead body, or a doll dressed up in a monk's robes, but it certainly was not me - that was the point, and what was so very frightening. It was again like a big electric shock, the biggest of all, and it made me jump. I couldn't remember what my face was like, my name, where I come from, what I was doing there, like a victim of a road accident who suffers short-term loss of memory from a knock on the head.
This time I felt I could explain what had happened a little better. I think that kilesa, which is the defilements (hate, greed and delusion), which normally cover up, and made up our characters so strongly, was sad and weakened. It was broken down by the practice. It could not cover up the truth any more. It lost its grip and the real truth was laid bare. I saw 'sabhava', the truth of non-self, and kilesa was very much weakened for just that split-second. I think that if that had happened in normal life it would have had a more profound effect, but as it was I know that this was because of the practice. I'd got used to these weird things happening by this time and I started to try to get back to sleep again. But then an hour later at midnight, something else happened. I was just drifting off to sleep on that state or half wakefulness - not quite asleep and in a kind of daydream. In the dream I was looking in a mirror, but suddenly realized that the face that was looking back at me from the mirror wasn't my face at all; it was a face of a Thai monk. The features were basically the same, those of a young man, but as my vision in the dream became clear I saw that the skin was a bit darker and the eyes looked Oriental. So it was a big shock, as this dream felt very real, as dream often do, and it made me jump again. I didn't want to continue looking at the face, but it was as though someone was holding my head to prevent me from looking away. I woke up, feeling very shaken. I didn't know if it was worth mentioning, but I did. The teacher's interpretation of this dream was that the experience was not vipassana wisdom, because to see ultimate reality (sabhava) you have to have perfect sati-sampajanna* and that's not possible in a dream state.
So, that ends the story of my practice, and now I would like to say final word about Buddhism and cover some important questions.
Firstly, what is Buddhism?
Buddhism can be defined into two ways: -
First, the truth state of the nature of the world, that is everything is:
1) Mind, or mental states - which can be defined as mental states (citta), which are composed of mental properties (cetasika).
2) Matter or form, which is rupa, and
These 3 things are called ultimate reality.
The second way to define Buddhism is in the teaching of the Buddha. This teaching covers a wide variety of subjects and is contained in the sermons of the Buddha, preached over a period of forty-five years. Its eventual message is that realizing the ultimate reality that I have just described, ending up with nibbana, can end suffering. The next question is, 'where is Buddhism?' Buddhism is not an image of Buddha. It's not in a beautiful temple. It's just in the one who knows how to practice and realize dhamma.
What benefit do you gain from Buddhism?
The Lord Buddha's teaching, are beneficial in three ways: for this life, for the next life and for realizing ultimate reality as previously mentioned. The realization of this is the highest good, which is called nibbana.
How can Buddhism be maintained?
The only way to maintain Buddhism is to practice and follow the Eight-Fold-Path, which is morality (sila), concentration (Samadhi), and wisdom (panna). If Buddhism is not practiced in this way, it will decline and eventually perish.
Another important question, and one that many Westerner's ask is, 'Isn't Buddhism rather pessimistic?' Well, this is said because the Three Characteristics that Buddhists talk about, namely that every thing is impermanent, suffering and without self, sound pessimistic, but unfortunately it's the truth. We are always suffering; even if we blink our eyes we are curing suffering, eating food is curing suffering; so if facing the truth is pessimistic, well, Buddhism is pessimistic but it is the truth.
Also, if people find dissatisfaction and suffering in life, Buddhism offers an answer to this, a way of doing something about this condition - and realizing The Three Characteristics, pessimistic or no, provides this way.
Another reason why Buddhism is not as pessimistic as it looks is that it offers nibbana, which is the ultimate happiness, the curing of all suffering.
A common belief among Westerners is that Buddhism is a selfish kind of philosophy because the practitioner seems to concentrate on himself - for self-purification. Well firstly, it appears so on the surface. But Buddhist insight and wisdom must be realized by observing one's own and nama. This is the only way. You have to see the truth in yourself, first, and then everything else will be seen; but only after have looked at the example of your own body and mind.
Secondly, it's not selfish, because the realization of higher states through self-purification by a yogi is often a source of great comfort and satisfaction to many ordinary people who aspire to be free from suffering. So that if somebody thinks that there is no answer to his problems, they might see someone who has cured suffering, and this could be a great comfort to them.
Taking this point of people who care suffering to the ultimate extreme, somebody who does reach nibbana is called a Noble One (Ariya), and a Noble One does not have to go through life giving obvious help to other people - like, for instance, getting involved in charity work. Just the example of his or her attainment is suffering to inspire other people to cure suffering, themselves. Such a person is really harmless. He has completely extinguished desire. And, as far as selfishness goes, what is the definition of selfishness? It's very much tied up with desire. So if you have extinguished desire, you are not by definition selfish.
That concludes my discussion of Buddhism and my experiences in daily Buddhist practice, so now I will say goodbye to you with the hope that someday, you will all so practice insight meditation and see the true state of the nature of the world (sabhava) - only body and mind - as I have.
There are two things worthy of comment in Mr. Mike's story.
One has to do with the correct way of reaching ultimate reality (sabhava-dhamma), which is a momentary glimpse of the true state of the nature of body and mind.
And the second has to do with the result - the importance of seeing ultimate reality.
Referring to item one we see that Mike's various experiences of insight were accompanied by strong feeling of a negative nature - that is to say unpleasantness (dukkha).
Insight seen by concentration (samadhi) will not do this. True insight, that changes wrong view, will always be accompanied by negative feelings - of loss, fear, or at some kind of shock that says something important has been revealed: the truth of ultimate reality.
Referring to the second item, regarding the importance of ultimate reality (that is to say, the first Knowledge, called mind-matter determination), it is the belief of this practice, that unless the meditator realizes the truth nature of body and mind with insight he will be practicing with self or ego in mind rather than realizing the truth that 'we' don't practice - only earnestness, mindfulness and clear comprehension practice (atapi, sati, sampajanna).
The path to end suffering cannot be reached unless the notion of 'we' practicing is erased and it is replaced by purity of view (ditthi visuddhi). When this is realized one no longer need a teacher. Body and mind (nama and rupa) becomes the teacher.
(The following sample of practice interviews represent only a few of the interviews conducted with the English monk Mahaviro ('Mr. Mike'.) It takes many weeks of teaching of dhamma and practice to prepare a student adequately for Satipatthana Practice.)
C. = Mr. Chua
M. = Mr. Mike
The first day
C. Rupa and Nama that is the object of vipassana, do you understand and remember what it is?
M. Yes, I understand and remember.
C. When seeing or hearing, what is rupa and what is nama?
M. When seeing, the colour and shape of the object is rupa, seeing is nama. When hearing, the sound of the object is rupa, hearing is nama.
C. What rupa?
M. When sitting; it's sitting rupa, when lying; it's lying rupa, when standing; it is standing rupa, when walking; it's walking rupa.
C. When seeing or hearing, are you observing rupa or nama?
M. I observe nama.
C. What nama?
M. When seeing I observe nama seeing, when hearing I observe nama hearing.
C. Wandering mind, aversion, thinking - all of these - are they rupa or nama?
M. It is nama wandering, nama with aversion, and nama thinking.
C. When wandering mind occurs, are you observing the story of wandering mind or how do you observe?
M. When wandering mind occurs, I observe nama wandering - not the story of wandering mind and I have awareness that wandering mind is nama - and come back to the present moment, such as sitting rupa.
C. You are better. You remember what rupa and what nama and you know how to observe. Try to have awareness observe what rupa or what nama. You cannot neglect rupa and nama because they are the object of vipassana practice. If you don't have awareness of what rupa and what nama, it is not called vipassana practice.
In the beginning I would like you to observe only sitting rupa, standing rupa, etc.
C. When sitting how you observe?
M. I observe nama sitting.
C. What do you observed with?
M. I observe with awareness (earnestness, mindfulness, and clear comprehension).
C. When hearing how do you observe?
M. I observe with awareness that nama is hearing.
C. When sitting or walking, what do you have awareness of?
M. Sitting I have awareness of sitting rupa; walking I have awareness of walking rupa.
C. Sitting rupa - what is it?
M. The posture at that time is sitting rupa.
C. Walking rupa - what is it?
M. The way you walk is walking rupa.
C. How do you know it is sitting rupa, walking rupa?
M. I know only by mind.
C. What do you mean by mind?
M. The way I sit, that is sitting rupa. The way I walk is walking rupa. We must know this by mind, not by eyes. Even if you close your eyes, you know it is sitting rupa.
C. Sitting rupa, walking rupa - does the eye see it?
M. The eye sees only colour or shape. The eyes cannot see sitting rupa, etc.
C. When you know sitting rupa, are you thinking or you know by another way?
M. I know by awareness that it is sitting rupa.
C. Thinking (verbalizing) or awareness - are they different or the same?
M. Thinking means to think sitting rupa over and over in the mind. But awareness means to know the way you sit - and that is sitting rupa.
C. You are right. You have to have awareness about rupa what nama continuously. You cannot observe just rupa - it has to be sitting rupa, you cannot observe just nama, you have to observe nama hearing, etc. You have to know each rupa and nama are not the same. Otherwise you'll think one rupa sits, walks, stands, and you'll think one nama is thinking, day-dreaming, angry, etc. The benefit of this is, when you know each rupa and nama are not the same the perception of compactness that cause you to think there is 'self' in rupa and nama will separate. And the truth will be realized that rupa and nama are anatta - without self.
3rd Meeting - January 29, 1986
C. When walking, do you know why you walk?
M. To see walking rupa.
C. That is not right. You have to have awareness that you are walking to cure suffering. If I ask you whenever you have suffering, where did it come from, what would you say?
M. It came from the old position.
C. When walking, what position do you observe?
M. I observe walking rupa.
C. Why do you observe walking rupa?
M. To destroy the wrong view that thinks 'we' walk. The truth is walking rupa walks.
C. Walking rupa, what do you observe - and how?
M. We observe the way we walk - and we observe with awareness - not by the eyes.
C. Who owns walking rupa?
M. Walking rupa has no owner, it's not 'me' - it's sabhava - the true state of the nature. It's not 'me,' it is sabhava that walks.
C. You are right. Walking rupa is sabhava. Nobody owns walking rupa. Do you understand what sabhava is?
M. Sabhava is the nature that exists and it is in the present moment.
C. That's not exactly right. Sabhava is the true state of the nature that is not man, woman, of self and it exists - and is called ultimate reality.
M. Is sabhava the present moment or not?
C. Sabhava that is rupa and nama always exist, but we don't always see it in normal existence. But with earnestness, mindfulness and clear comprehension in Satipatthana, we see it in the present moment. Right now, you, Mahaviro, are sitting. This is sabhava - sabhava of rupa and nama. This always exists. But Mahaviro clings to 'I sit'. The fact is that sabhava is sitting. Mahaviro clings too 'I sit' is the wrong view. The way you sit, stand, walk, lie is the truth of sabhava. But Mahaviro thinks 'we' sit, stand, walk is defilement. Defilement clings to sabhava as 'us'. The way you practice will destroy the wrong view that clings to the illusion that sabhava is 'us'.
When Mahaviro is walking that walking is walking rupa. If you understand this, it is right. Because it is sabhava: this is the result of vipassana wisdom - which occurs from the right cause, which is Satipatthana done in the right way.
When you are walking and walking rupa feels suffering it means that walking rupa suffers. So you have to change from walking rupa to standing rupa to cure suffering. So walking rupa is the old position. Standing rupa is the new position. All four positions - one position is always changing to another, from the old to the new, and then the new becomes the old. Do you know why? It's because suffering forces the position to change. Suffering is the sabhava that always forces the old to change to the new - all the time - never ending, so long as rupa and nama exist. What do you think - which posture is happy?
C. All the four positions - there is no happiness in any of them. Only suffering, cure suffering, all the time until you go to sleep. When you wake up, suffering and cure suffering begins all over. This is the way sabhava works. But the wrong view that 'we' think, 'we' sit is there, and when suffering occurs, the wrong view thinks we will walk and lie down to be comfortable. The fact is no posture is comfortable. Only suffering, cure suffering, all day, all night, until sleep. That is sabhava. It's like this - no man, no woman, no self in sabhava.
Therefore, you come to practice to observe the four postures and when you reach the truth you are going to destroy defilement, you are going to destroy the wrong view that think rupa is self.
I would like to ask you - sitting rupa is it permanent or impermanent?
C. How do you know?
M. Because you have to change the position very often.
C. Why do you have to change very often?
M. Because suffering forces you to change.
C. Being forced to change is impermanence. Because suffering forces you to change, is impermanence. Because suffering forces you to change, suffering is also demonstrated. Since change cannot be controlled that is not self (anatta). Anatta: out of control.
You have seen the four positions are impermanent, suffering, and not self with cinta wisdom (by practice). The Three characteristics - impermanent, suffering, not self, are Natural Law: every body is subject to the law - no exceptions. The poor, the rich, Brahma, or any God: They are sabhava, and can't escape from this law.
When rupa and nama occurs, rupa and nama gets old, sick and dies. If one doesn't know this natural law he will continue to suffer and can't break the chain of suffering. Nobody knows where the beginning of rupa and nama is and the end.
You come to practice satipatthana to know the truth of sabhava as it is. You are going to realize the harmfulness of sabhava; you're going to feel disgust, and after you feel disgust you're going to feel no pleasure in rupa and nama (release). And so you are going to reach the end of rebirth - no more old age sickness and death.
You come to practice the four positions. If you follow the four positions only, the four positions can end suffering. There are 44 objects in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. You only need one object, the four positions in order to end suffering. The four positions are fit for the character of these times, which are times where people have craving and weak wisdom. It's also easier to practice the four positions then the others three foundations.
When we change the position we don't have to follow any regular pattern but change to whatever position tends to cure suffering. Even sitting rupa has many different positions. Just as when we eat we must know every bite is to cure suffering. And when we chew we have to know that we have chew to cure suffering. That prevents like and dislike for the food. And you are going to feel you eat, suffering, forces you to eat. You're going to feel everything you do is suffering and cure suffering.
Fourth day - January 30, 1986
C. How is your practice?
M. In the daytime I have wandering mind less, but at night I have more and cannot sleep.
C. Wandering mind about what?
M. Thinking about going back to England. I cannot sleep the whole night.
C. Wandering mind is good or not? You don't like wandering mind?
M. No, I don't like it.
C. If you don't like wandering mind that is aversion. If you want your mind to be peaceful, to be in the present moment, that is desire. Wandering mind occurs because you are thinking about the future or the past. That means you are out the present moment. When wandering mind occurs just come back to the present. The reason you cannot sleep all night is because you think you have very little time in Thailand, so you try very hard to be in the present moment with desire. This makes you have tension, and so you cannot sleep. You should take a tranquilizer. You should write down what you plan to do when you go to England - and then forget it. That's the way to have less wandering mind. Then two days before you leave you can read what you put down.
M. That's a good idea.
C. To be a monk here you have two duties: study theory and use that theory to practice. You have to know these duties of Buddha: study theory and practice vipassana to end suffering. Suffering is rupa and nama. That defilement that clings to rupa and nama is 'us', self.
Wandering mind is dhamma. It is also defilement - one of the hindrances. It hinders us from reaching wholesome states (kusula). Wandering mind is not self - it's not a woman: it is impermanent, suffering and not self. Wandering' mind is not Mr. Mike, it's not you. Can you prevent wandering mind?
M. No I cannot prevent it. I can just know it is wandering mind and then come back to the present moment.
C. That's right. Nobody in Samsara (the round of rebirths) can prevent wandering mind. Nobody can control wandering mind - because it is anatta. Nobody can control getting old, sick, and dying.
You come to practice in order to get rid of defilement, which is in the feeling - that to say, in nama. Wandering mind is the defilement that, prevent vipassana wisdom from occurring in the present moment.
Why do we say the present moment is very important? First, we should know that the present moment does not mean just being in the present, as is often thought. The present moment is when nama and rupa occurs at a given time independently of our desire - that is to say, without defilement. We say that present moment is very important because when the present is realized, vipassana wisdom can occur - and this wisdom will lead to realizing the Four Noble Truths - which occurs at the 14th yana. When the mind is composed of earnestness, mindfulness and clear comprehension, that mind is in the present, and that mind has morality, concentration and wisdom (sila, samadhi and panna) in the Eight-Fold Path. Morality erases obvious defilement in body and speech. Concentration suppresses mental defilements, that we call hindrances. Wisdom erases hidden defilement, called cankers, that have the wrong view that 'we sit', 'we stand' 'we walk' etc. This is the benefit of the present moment in Satipatthana practice.
5th Meeting - January 31, 1986
(Mr. Mike was sick and stayed in the hospital one day)
C. You were sick and stayed in the hospital. That means rupa got sick and nama felt bad about it - or felt restless. Because when rupa and nama arise, eleven kinds of suffering follow - just as happened to you. Do realize the harm that rupa and nama can lead to?
M. Yes. I realize it. If rupa and nama exist, suffering will follow.
C. If the Five Aggregates - or rupa and nama - exist, whatever form of becoming (life) you have, you will be the prisoner of that becoming. There is no refuge, no safety in any becoming. Wherever rupa and nama occur in any becoming, you will be punished by that rupa and nama, by sickness, old age, and death. Plus sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair etc. Do you understand?
M. Yes. I understand. If there is no rupa and nama all of eleven kinds of suffering cannot occur.
C. Yesterday we were talking about the three requirements for the object of vipassana practice:
1) The object has to be rupa and nama - which is ultimate reality - that is, not a man, not a woman, not self. That which is ultimate reality is the only object you can meditate on in Satipatthana. Conventional reality such as 'Mr. Mike', 'I see' 'There' is not a suitable object in Satipatthana.
2) That object must be in of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
3) The object must be observed with earnestness, mindfulness, and clear comprehension. For example, when sitting, the object of 'the 3 nama' (earnestness, mindfulness, and clear comprehension) is sitting rupa and the present moment.
This awareness (earnestness, mindfulness, and clear comprehension) has the wisdom that knows rupa and nama are not us, not self. This is the real Satipatthana - the 3 nama, or 'awareness' are the actual practitioner, not 'us' The purpose of Satipatthana to destroy like and dislike in the Five Aggregates. When wisdom occurs and realizes suffering. For example, in sitting rupa, it's going to change the wrong view of the mind that the posture of sitting is not 'us' not self - it's just the true state of the nature (sabhava).
When you understand the principles of Satipatthana, the practice should be easy. When you have awareness (mindfulness, and clear comprehension) in the present moment you will know it, or if you are out of the present moment you will know it too. Besides this, there is another dhamma that helps practice: that is proper consideration, which we call yonisomanasikara. In full, yoniso 'to fix one's attention on something with right understanding as to the cause.' Yoniso prevents defilement from entering. For example, when sitting, knowing sitting rupa suffers prevents like or dislike from getting in. it is not 'you' that or suffers - so this prevents dislike. Yoniso knows that sitting rupa must change the position to cure suffering and this prevents like for the new position. Another helper is observation (sikkhati). This tells us if the practice is right or wrong. And when wandering mind occurs, observation tells us that mind is out of the present moment.
When earnestness and mindfulness work together, we can summarize them as concentration (samadhi) and then when clear comprehension, which we call wisdom, is added in, plus proper consideration (yoniso) and observation (sikkhati) - working together they will destroy the wrong view (moha). Like and dislike have to be destroyed, then at the same time the wisdom of the 3 nama (earnestness, mindfulness, and clear comprehension) can enter to destroy wrong view (moha). That wrong view thinks sitting rupa is 'us', is self.
6th Meeting - February 1, 1986
C. Buddhism is 'universal philosophy' - it describes the true state of the nature of the living universe: mental state, composed of mental properties (citta-cetasika), matter (rupa) and nibbana. The Lord Buddha discovered this true state of the nature and taught us how to realize it through meditation practice, and thus end suffering. Realizing this true state of the nature is the only end or goal of Buddhism.
One who understands practice, following practice, following the principles of Satipatthana is the one who knows how to follow the teaching of the Lord Buddha, as outlined in the 37 Qualities leading to Enlightenment (Bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma). The 37 Qualities are the Middle way starting with Satipatthana; they end up with the Eight-Fold Path, where the Four Noble Truths are realized and suffering is ended. The 37 Qualities are Buddhism.
Mental States (citta-cetasika) and matter (rupa) are suffering (dukkha-sacca). They (citta-cetasika) are in Mr. Mike, in every nama-rupa. And who creates this truth of suffering (dukkha-sacca)? It is craving (the 3 tanha - or Samudaya, the Second Noble Truth) that is the cause of suffering. Each time dukkha-sacca is created the craving is in dukkha-sacca and is continually reborn without end. Craving is inherent in dukkha-sacca.
Nobody creates us, we create ourselves; it is easy to say 'Mr. Mike', or 'me' or 'I' - and this defilement creates ourselves. As long as this defilement is not extinguished, it will continually create us, birth after birth. The way you practice right now, this is Satipatthana and it is the most important teaching in Buddhism. We practice this in order to realize the dhamma that extinguishes defilement and suffering. That is nibbana. Satipatthana, according to Buddhism, is the one only way to the end of suffering, because satipatthana is morality, concentration and wisdom. For example when observing sitting rupa with earnestness, mindfulness and clear comprehension, we are in the present moment, and at the time we have morality, concentration and wisdom. So if I ask you, can you develop morality first until morality is perfect, then develop concentration until concentration is perfect, and then develop wisdom until it is perfect - is this correct?
M. No. They have to be developed together.
C. Why is this so?
(Mr. Mike couldn't answer)
C. If we practice morality until morality is perfect - how many years will it be until morality is perfect? Or will you die first? When morality is perfect, can you then practice concentration, and how long until this is perfect? Morality erases obvious defilement. Concentration suppresses mental defilement (hindrances). So how long will it take to completely suppress hindrances? And then you still have to develop wisdom to erase hidden defilements. Therefore, morality, concentration, and wisdom in the Eight-Fold Path have to be developed simultaneously. If morality, concentration and wisdom are not done together it is not yogavacara (earnestness, mindfulness and clear comprehension). You must have morality concentration and wisdom, all together, to have yogavacara. If you leave out one, it is not yogavacara.
(At this point another student asked a question)
Student. Can we do concentration first, until it is very good and then do wisdom later.
C. What type of concentration do you mean? There are 3 types of concentration: momentary concentration (kanika samadhi), high concentration (upacara samadhi) and one-pointed-ness (apanasamadhi).
Student. I would take high concentration (upacara samadhi).
C. Upacara samadhi is high concentration almost up to one-pointed-ness, and is very peaceful. That level is too high for vipassana wisdom to arise. Vipassana practice can have only momentary concentration, because momentary concentration, allow you to change the object. For example, when we observe sitting rupa, if a sound occurs, we can change to observe nama hearing.
7th Meeting - February 6th, 1986
C. How is your practice?
M. The last 2 or 3 days I observed nama seeing, nama hearing very often by practice wisdom (cinta wisdom). And one time in sitting rupa I had the feeling very strong and very briefly, that there is no 'me'. And I never had this feeling before.
C. What is not me?
M. I don't know. Just that it is not 'me'. And after that I felt very sad and depressed, and had this feeling for two hours. I could not come back to 'me' again.
C. Is it rupa or nama that's not you?
M. I don't know. Because this time it is not clear, like before, when I saw sitting rupa it is not I, because it is very brief.
C. What position were you in at that time?
M. Sitting. But the feeling was very brief, so I can't explain. The first time I saw sitting rupa was not 'me', that was clear. But I wasn't frightened like this time. This time there was just the strong feeling that was not, 'me'. I wanted to feel like a normal person again. But I couldn't do it. It lasted until everything, and then I stopped practice.
C. You couldn't come back to normal - what do you mean by normal?
M. I would have the feeling of just being a normal person.
C. At this time when you are observing sitting rupa, nama was the one who observed it. Before this you had the wrong view that 'you' are observing sitting rupa. But when mindfulness and clear comprehension got better, wisdom saw that what was observing sitting rupa was not 'you'. You haven't had this feeling before since you were born. To see nama is not you is very hard to catch. Because every time you see, you think 'you' see, every time you hear, you think 'you' hear. Whatever nama occurs - love, hatred, etc. - you have the wrong view it is you - all day, all night.
Consciousness or nama, we cannot see, hear or touch. No taste, no odour. Nama is the nature that knows. For example, mind has lust, mind has aversion - this is nama. And concentration and clear comprehension, this is nama. Nama can know nama. Nama can know rupa.
In the world there are only two things: rupa-dhamma, nama-dhamma. If you don't see rupa is not you, you are going to see nama. When you were sitting, nama observed rupa, but the 3 nama, instead of observing sitting rupa knew that nama was not you - because nama saw nama without desire. And you don't know what it is, because you have never seen this before. You have the wrong view and you have been clinging to nama is you - and not just in this life. When the wrong view has been changed to the right view and the truth of sabhava is seen, defilement that clings to nama is 'you' becomes frightened - and sadness, depression and so many feelings occur, because these feelings would like to come back to the feeling of 'we' - which is the wrong view again.
Buddhism is a universal philosophy; this means that the truths of Buddhism are true everywhere and for everybody. These, truths - unlike certain mundane scientific truths, which are proved by looking outside of oneself - are proved by observation of one's own body and mind. You come to practice and prove these truths, following the command of the Lord Buddha 'paccatan veditabbo vinnuhi', to be seen each man for himself.' Even if you have seen a little bit of the truth of sabhava, that is not a man, a woman, not self, it is of benefit for you. You know it by yourself; nobody can know it with you.
M. On Sunday my friends came to visit me and asked me, how is Buddhism? And I said 'It is not me' and they looked at me like I have changed, and they have very much doubt and they were like I was before I was ordained. Because I talk about something they have never felt. They have never practiced, so they don't understand. 'They think I am crazy'.
C. I would like to tell you a story. Suppose you were a turtle and you could live both in the water and on the land. You can see the difference between the land and the water. The land has good food, T.V. radio, etc. So the turtle goes into the water and the fish ask him where were you? And the turtle says I went up to the land. And the fish asked, does the land have clear water to live in? And the turtle said no. Does the land have dirty water? The turtle said no. The land has so many things that are different from the water. The turtle tried to explain but the fish could not understand. It is the same with you: you tried to explain about vipassana wisdom but you cannot understand. Because they are in the mundane world, the world of defilement: It's different from you. You have seen the world without defilement, a little bit.
8th Meeting - February 7, 1986
C. The present moment is very important with vipassana practice: the present moment of what?
The present moment of yogavacara - (earnestness, mindfulness and clear comprehension). These three nama (yogavacara) work together; therefore the benefit of the present moment is that it leads you to realize the truth of sabhava. Right now you are sitting. What is the present moment?
M. Sitting rupa is the present moment.
C. The way body is disposed is sitting rupa? (No answer.) The entire posture of sitting is sitting rupa. You have to observed shape of the posture with sitting rupa, standing rupa, etc. If you don't observe in the right way, vipassana wisdom cannot occur, and therefore the wrong view that thinks body and mind is one, and it is 'us', cannot be changed. Who is the owner of sitting rupa?
M. Nobody owns sitting rupa. It is sabhava that takes the sitting position.
C. That's right.
The present moment is very important, because it will lead to vipassana wisdom, and show the truth of sabhava, not man, not woman, not self. This sabhava is really the Five Aggregates, or rupa and nama - and it is inherently suffering (dukkha-sacca). Rupa is the sabhava that doesn't know, while nama, the other four aggregates (feeling, perception, volition, consciousness), is that which knows.
You come to practice here to the teaching of the Lord Buddha. If the practice is correct, the truth that is sabhava is realized by the 3 nama which observe rupa, standing rupa, etc., - with a mind that has earnestness, mindfulness, and clear comprehension in the present moment.
The first step: The 3 nama to realize the truth of sabhava, that is not a man, not a woman, not self, until it is clear. After that, it's going to change the wrong view that thinks rupa and nama are not us, not self. After that, wisdom will realize the characteristic of sabhava - that it is impermanent, suffering and not self. It's a tiger; you have to first see the tiger, then you can see the stripes of the tiger.
You have seen sitting rupa is not you - no you in sitting rupa - that means you have seen sabhava. The way you sit is an expression of sabhava. You know about rupa-nama or the Five Aggregates. But you know only the names; you know only theory. If you don't practice according to the principle of Satipatthana, as contained in the Mahasati Patthana Discourse, it will be difficult to realize the truth of sabhava in yourself. If you don't realize this, you will think body and mind, are you, are self. Who clings to rupa-nama as self?
M. Defilement, wrong view.
C. Craving and wrong view come together; when the wrong view occurs, craving occurs too. They are the aiding condition for clinging (attachment). Clinging about what? Clinging to the Five Aggregates or rupa-nama as us. And as a result of this, rupa and nama are reborn. Nobody knows when nama and rupa began or when they will end.
It is not important when nama and rupa occurred, because it is the past. But the important thing is the circle of birth and suffering of rupa and nama. Because defilement has been clinging to rupa and nama for a long time. How are we going to cut this chain? By the practice - and then rupa and nama perish.
M. I have a question about Buddhism. When the one has been seen sabhava and has extinguished defilement completely - why does that one still have compassion? I could not explain to my friends when they came to visit me.
C. The Lord Buddha and the arahants, they have no defilement. They know that Mr. Frank, myself, or Mr. Mike are suffering - which is birth, decay, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation - so the arahant feels compassion. Compassion about the sabhava that is covered by defilement, and makes people suffer. He wants to see them free from defilement, as he is.
M. My friends asked me if everybody becomes an arahant, who would take care of the business of the world - growing food, teaching school, building houses, etc.
C. The state of arahant is not easy to reach. Even the right way to end suffering is difficult to understand. There are so many wrong ways to practice. So it's not likely the whole world would be come arahants. Your friends came to visit you. If you tell them you have seen there is no 'us', no self they won't understand. Even those who understand the practice, until they reach sabhava, it's very difficult. Don't talk about arahant; that is too high a level to discuss practically. Even the stream-winner path is difficult to reach. You yourself have seen sabhava a little bit, your mind has changed from the wrong view; you have never had this feeling before. Before it was 'we'. Which path of the body is 'we'? (No answer.)
If we look at any particular path of the body we see that that particular part contains no 'we', no self. Wrong view about self occurs in nama. Whenever the wrong view of self occurs, the feeling of 'we' is in that place. For example 'we see', 'we hear' is the wrong view. But seeing and hearing is just nama hearing, nama seeing. 'We' is defilement. You have seen sabhava just a little bit - you feel sad, you feel depressed, because defilement clings. That defilement clings to rupa and nama as 'us' - but rupa and nama are just energy and nama is also just rapidly changing mental states - all different. No solid body, no single, unchanging mind-impermanent; suffering and not self.
M. Why is Buddhism so difficult to understand?
The other religions, when you go to church, or listen to the priest, it's easy to understand.
C. Buddhism is very difficult because the teaching the Lord Buddha is to get rid of defilement - because defilement created you, and right now that defilement is inherent in you. And defilement in you doesn't want to get rid of defilement. You have to practice according to the teaching of the Lord Buddha only and then defilement will subside. When wisdom realizes absolutely that Mr. Mike is the truth suffering (dukkha-sacca), defilement will be eradicated completely and end suffering. That is why Buddhism is difficult to practice. It is difficult to understand, because, to properly practice, to get rid of defilement, one must have a deep and sure understanding of the dhamma.
As to ending suffering and getting rid of defilement, I would like to point out that suffering in Buddhism means rupa and nama and to end suffering, it means no more rupa and nama because they are inherently suffering (dukkha-sacca). You have to get rid of them, because defilement is the cause of rupa and nama, which is inherently suffering (dukkha-sacca). When the cause (defilement) is extinguished the result (dukkha-sacca) or rupa-nama are extinguished. No more rebirth, no more rupa and nama in any becoming.
Who depends on Brahma, God, and sacred things? Defilement depends on these. The truth is, we should have self-reliance, which is really reliance on dhamma, to end suffering. That is the principle of Buddhism.
The way to practice to get rid of defilement is very difficult. When defilement creates 'you', it makes you suffer from birth, decay, old age and death. Everybody in the world suffers, as you do. Wars, fighting and killing in the world, occurs because of desires, aversion, and delusion - which exists in everybody. These are basic forms of defilement - the root causes. If anyone comes to practice here, like you, and realizes the truth of sabhava as it is, you don't have to teach that person compassion, he will realize it by himself. It is like we are in a mud-hole and we are able to climb out - so we want to show the other ones the way out of the mud-hole. The mud-hole is like the hole of birth, decay old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, etc. Nearly everybody in the world thinks they are happy or are going to be happy - how are you going to teach them to end suffering? Because they don't want to give up their happy as the price to end suffering.
9th Meeting - February 10, 1986
C. How is your awareness for the last three days?
M. The last two days I had more earnestness. Saturday I had a lot of defilement - wandering mind. I didn't like it. I wanted wandering mind to disappear. I knew that that was aversion; and the next day the same. But I still continued practice until 6 p.m.: nothing happened; so I got bored. I stopped practice and lay down. Suddenly, I heard one drop from the lap into the water pot in the bathroom. I felt frightened like I had an electric shock or fell off a cliff, because that hearing was not me hearing. But it was nama hearing.
C. It was not you that heard.
M. Yes. It was not me that heard and I felt very frightened.
C. Just a little bit, right? It's not you that heard just a little bit.
M. Yes. But the feeling was very strong. Like I had an electric shock, but it was not too long. I knew that it was nama hearing - not me that heard.
C. Was it this time very strong, like you have seen suffering, like you have seen sitting rupa not you, nama is not you?
M. This time it was the strongest and very clear but the feeling of being depressed didn't last too long.
C. That hearing is nama. Nama is sabhava-dhamma. It's not 'we' that hear. It's the sabhava, or the nature of nama - which is to know. Before you had the feeling that 'we' hear but now you know that hearing is not 'you'. Hearing is the nature that knows. The way that you will see the sabhava like this is to practice in the right way, according to the teaching of the Lord Buddha. This is the wisdom that realizes the truth of sabhava.
M. At that time I had good yoniso I had good awareness, every thing was just right, as I started to lie down.
C. Why? Why were mindfulness, clear comprehension and earnestness equal? Like still water. Do you know?
M. The first two days when I practiced, I was very serious. After that I just tried not to try too hard. Because I had lost two days without anything happening - and so I stopped practice and just went back to normal.
C. The way you practiced at first, you were too serious. Do you know what was hiding in the feeling?
M. I think it was defilement - desire to see dhamma.
C. Yes, desire to see dhamma - sitting, standing, laying and walking, with desire - to see dhamma. But you could not see it. And defilement said let's stop practice because dhamma cannot occur. Therefore when you lay down you let desire go. At that time there was no defilement in the feeling - so nama hearing occurred. After that defilement came back again. Everybody is like this, because they never had this feeling before just 'we', 'we' all the time. When there is no 'we', at that time you feel frightened.
10th Meeting - February 14, 1986
C. How is your practice?
M. At night I was half awake, half asleep. When I awoke I felt frightened.
C. This is normal for people who live in a quite place. When they awake they feel frightened. There are two causes for being frightened:
1) Living in a quiet place, and
2) When wisdom wants to arise, but falls off because it's not too strong.
M. Also, sometimes I have wandering mind, but if I have less wandering mind I can be in the present moment more easily.
C. You have more experience in your practice now. It's not like when you first came here. Then, when wandering mind occurred you didn't like it. Now if wandering mind occurs you don't feel aversion - it's just nama-dhamma, it's sabhava, it's not us. Right now, you have been here one and a half month. It's the same way with someone who studies agriculture; it takes a while to understand it. Your yoniso is better too. Yoniso means you have to understand how to practice. A short definition of yoniso is, understanding the practice - understanding - the truth of sabhava. If you don't understand how to practice, you won't have good yoniso.
Yoniso prevents defilement. If you have no yoniso, defilement is working. The practice is very difficult. It is difficult because of yoniso, because yoniso is to prevent defilement. Preventing defilement is very difficult. Defilement is cleverer than you. If you prevent defilement in one place, it breaks out in another place. If you don't know the face of defilement, it's going to fool you. Defilement will make you think some other practice, such as samattha, is good, and the right practice. If you do the other practice, you are going to reach the Form Sphere or the Formless Sphere after you die. So defilement tells you, will have no more old age, sickness and death if you reach these states. So you practice this way by doing samadhi, because defilement orders you. So wisdom cannot occur to end suffering.
Now we come back to this practice. For example, whenever you change the position, defilement says let's sit in this posture. It's better than that posture. This posture will help you see dhamma. And defilement thinks, walking rupa is better than sitting rupa. What do you think? Which rupa is better in the four positions?
M. I don't think about anything. But I like walking rupa.
C. That means defilement fools you - because you think walking rupa is better than the other, because it has less wandering mind. The fact is the four positions are impermanent, suffering and not self. They are all the same. If you like one position, it means defilements is in. Defilement likes walking rupa.
The important thing in the practice is to realize suffering, because suffering has to be realized - in the Four Noble Truths. Suffering is the truth - the truth that is existence. Sitting rupa, walking rupa, standing rupa, laying rupa, is suffering. Must be changed to cure suffering. Don't forget this. The first step of the practice, you have to realize suffering. The more you realize suffering more defilement is eradicated, because suffering is the truth. In the Four Noble Truths, the function of the Four Noble Truths is that suffering has to be realized. The things you have to realize first are, ordinary suffering (dukkha-vedana): you feel pain in the position, and so you have to change to the position. Ordinary suffering occurs in the old positions. Suffering in the process of being cured (Sankhara-dukkha) is what helps the change to the new position. When you realize this more and more, wisdom is going to see the three characteristics (dukkha-lakkhana). When wisdom sees the three characteristics more and more, wisdom is going to realize the truth of suffering (dukkha-sacca). Dukkha-sacca is the truth that we cannot change anything; that suffering is inherent - and it is the real truth. The way to practice is to start with ordinary suffering (dukkha-vedana) first, because this is easy too see. Right now the truth of suffering (dukkha-sacca) is in you are the Five Aggregates (rupa and nama) and they are dukkha-sacca. You would like to be permanent, you would like nothing to change; you would like everything to be in your control. You cannot do it, because it is sabhava-dhamma - it is not a man, not a woman, not self. It is impermanent, suffering and not self. Rupa-nama has to get old, sick, and die - absolutely. You cannot escape. Beside this, all of the other kinds of the other kinds of suffering with defilement follow: sorrow, lamentation, pain (bodily - which causes restlessness in the mind), etc.
The Tripitaka has three divisions: Vinayapitaka (morals of the monks); Suttapitaka (the sermons of the Buddha); Abbhidhamma-pitaka (the Analytic Doctrine). The purpose of Abbhidhamma is to break body and mind into smaller parts, to demonstrate not self - such as the Five Aggregates, twelve Sense Spheres, etc. In short, this is just rupa and nama. In rupa and nama, do you see, in the Five Aggregates which one is you? Is rupa you? Feeling you? Perception you? Volition you? Consciousness you? If you get angry with Mr. Frank, you are getting angry with the Five Aggregates. Which one are you angry with? In the Five Aggregates each of them is not a man, a woman not Mr. Frank - just sabhava-dhamma. Who created the Five Aggregates?
M. Defilement created the Five Aggregates.
C. Who created this 'we' that sits, stands, walks, etc? Defilement created this 'we' that is the wrong view. To deal with defilement you have to know its face, because it can fool you very easily. It can fool you by saying that some practices that teach you can get rid of defilement and thus reach nibbana - lead to a nibbana that is a heaven, that is happy. They fool you into believing that in this heaven that is nibbana there is no old age, sickness and death.
The fact is nibbana is not a place. Nibbana is the object of mind (citta), which is specifically called the Path Moment (magga-citta) and the citta, which directly follows and is called fruition (phala-citta)
Right now when you sit, sitting rupa is the object. This is mundane. When you practice until wisdom occurs, it's still mundane. When you practice until you no longer have sitting rupa as an object, it then has nibbana as an object and that becomes supra mundane - as path moment (magga-citta) and fruition moment (phala-citta). And then defilement is extinguished, and also suffering is extinguished too, because that (mental state) citta that has nibbana as an object is the one that extinguishes defilement, and hence suffering.
In the Four Noble Truth, two are mundane and two are supra mundane. The first, the Truth of Suffering (Dukkha-sacca) and the Cause of Suffering (Samudaya-sacca) are mundane. Nirodha-sacca (or nibbana) and the Eight-Fold Path (Magga-Sacca) are supra mundane. However the Eight-Fold Path can also be mundane. Right now you are practicing - it's still in mundane. You practice by realizing suffering. Suffering is the Five Aggregates, or rupa and nama, or you. The more you realize suffering, the more craving (tanha) is eradicated. The more craving is eradicated, the closer you get to nirodha, or nibbana. That means the more suffering is realized the Eight-Fold Path (Magga-Sacca) is developed. These are functions of the Four Noble Truths. The world 'function' refers to the fact that suffering (dukkha-sacca) is realized craving (tanha) is eradicated, nibbana is reached, and the Eight-Fold Path is developed. Thus these Four Functions of the Noble Truths come together all at once - in the 14th yana.
11th Meeting - February 26, 1986
C. How is your practice?
M. Last night I couldn't sleep. I had wandering mind. Mind was distracted from lying rupa, and it comes up to the building where the lessons were held every day. I thought of all different faces of the people who went to that building. Mr. Chua, Mr. Frank, Miss Vitoon. I knew this was wandering mind, and when this registered, it came back to lying rupa. At that time I realized that lying rupa was not me. It was just look like a doll, a body - a dead body, very clear. It was clearer then it was before. I was very frightened and I gripped the bed. After that I fell asleep again for about an hour. Then something else happened. I was just drifting off to sleep in that state of half-sleep, half-wake fullness - not quite asleep but in a kind of daydream. In the dream I was looking in a mirror but suddenly I realize that the face that was looking back at me from the mirror wasn't my face at all. It was the face of a Thai monk. The features were basically the same (as mine). Those of a young man, but as my vision in the dream became clearer, I saw that the skin was a bit darker and the eyes looked Oriental. So it was a big shock, as this dream felt again. I didn't want continue looking at the face, but it was as though someone was holding my head to prevent me from looking away. I woke up very shaken. I didn't know what was happening but the feeling of fear was very strong like when you see a horror movie. Except that this was coming from me.
C. The way you described the first time you saw lying rupa, that was correct. That was wisdom that saw lying rupa was not you. You saw the sabhava (truth) that rupa is not you. But about the dream, that is not vipassana wisdom, because at that time you had no awareness (mindfulness and clear comprehension), because to see ultimate reality (sabhava) you have to have perfect awareness (mindfulness and clear comprehension), and that's not possible in a dream state. But this time, like the first time, you felt frightened. The frightened feeling you dreamed about came from the first experience.
The story that you told is very difficult for people to do who don't have previous accumulations* - to see sabhava like this. Even one who doesn't have previous accumulations, they will see sabhava, but it takes a long time. But for you, you are very quick: you have been here a little more than one month, and you have seen sabhava very quickly, because you have previous accumulation. Right now, you are on the way, the way of vipassana wisdom, the way to end suffering.
Many people come here, but they cannot see dhamma right away, like you have. This time you have seen rupa was not you. The last time you have seen nama was not you. Before you thought it was you. But the way you have seen rupa and nama is separately. You saw rupa was not you and nama was not you. Some day you will see them together, almost simultaneously, a split-second apart, and this is called nama-rupa-pariccheda-nama. It is like the 'Path of Purity' (Visuddhi-Magga) says: first you see rupa, which is like a mirror. When the mirror becomes clearer, you will see the one who cleans the mirror, which is nama. Then, you see both together, the mirror (rupa) and the one who cleans the mirror (nama)
You are going back to England soon. I am sorry to see you go. Take dhamma with you and don't leave it here: remember the sabhava you have seen, and it will lead you out of suffering.
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