Often when there is widespread interest in
subject, there are also widespread misunderstandings. This is
certainly true of the current interest in Buddhist meditation.
Many different – and sometimes contradictory – methods of
meditation are presently available, and the beginning meditator
often finds it difficult to know which methods are partial or
lopsided when viewed in terms of the Buddha’s path, and which
are balance and complete.
The purpose of this book is to give the
reader enough background in the factors of the Buddha’s path to
make an informed choice in deciding which method of meditation
to pursue. It emphasizes Right View – the first factor of the
path – as having crucial importance, for without the development
of Right View through reasoned investigation of physical and
mental processes, no amount of concentration or mindfulness,
bare awareness or "going with the flow" can lead to absolute
freedom form suffering.
Included is an appendix, which suggests a
number of beginning techniques in walking and sitting meditation
for use in conjunction with the approaches for developing Right
View, discussed in the body of the book.
The author, abbot of a forest monastery in
northeastern Thailand, has written several Dhamma books, and is
frequently invited to Bangkok to teach.
Beyond The Stream Of The World
I would like to start out by making one
point. You may have read many Dhamma books and heard Dhamma from
many teachers. Each teacher has a different mode of expression.
You must contemplate, analyze and investigate critically and
reasonably what you have read with wisdom (paññá) until you are
sure of it. Your contemplation must be based on Right View (sammaditthi),
which is the important principle to guarantee the correct
practice. It is like computer programming. A wrong computer
program will produce a wrong output and wrong results regardless
of what you put in. if the mind is programmed with wrong views (micchaditthi),
misunderstanding is hidden in the mind, and subsequent
reasoning’s are all wrong. So improper use of wisdom may lead to
wrong understanding, and the true Dhamma becomes false in one’s
Wisdom In Conviction
The practice on mind development is a very
delicate process. It involves all-round knowledge to avoid
possible misunderstandings. It is not the case that all the
realizations, which arise in the course of the practice, are
true, because these realizations can arise from two different
sources: Right View and Wrong View. The two lead to completely
different ends. The knowledge gained from right views teaches
the mind and raises it to a higher level of Dhamma practice in
line with the Noble Path (Magga), which leads to the Final Goal
(Nibbána), the cessation of all defilements and suffering. In
contrast, knowledge from wrong views leads the mind in a wrong
direction forever, and the chance of returning to the right line
of Dhamma is very remote.
Therefore Dhamma Students must be aware of
the two split paths at an early stage and understand them well
enough to correct any wrong view in time. Nowadays those who
practice Dhamma argue about the various realizations gained from
their practice. Each is very confident that his is correct. May
I congratulate those whose views are in line with Right View.
But if one’s realizations are derived from a mind imbued with
wrong views, it is difficult for anyone to guide one to the
right direction, for wrong minds are also very proud of their
knowledge. The person with wrong views does not listen to
others. He is over self-confident and stubborn and acts
arrogantly and openly as if he were an expert of Dhamma who knew
all the Truth. This is difficult to correct.
Conviction (saddha) and self-confidence, if
without wisdom, could be deviant. Wrong convictions become
implanted in the mind without one’s knowing it. If the mind
(citta) has a false view, false knowledge follows and has in
many cases caused abnormal perception in the minds of
meditators. Therefore one must carefully base one’s practice on
Right View, which is just like a compass that points to the
Selecting One’s Teacher And Dhamma
If you are uncertain about your own method,
you should look for help from a teacher. If you find the right
teacher with the right view, your practice will surely progress
through the Noble Path towards the Final Goal in this life or
soon in a future life. On the other hand, if one is led by a
person with a false view, his practice goes nowhere, and drifts
Selecting the right teacher is therefore a
very important first step. You are lucky if you have chosen the
right one. It is just like driving in the right traffic lane,
and you will surely reach your destination without delay. But if
you drive in a wrong lane without knowing it, you are wasting
your time and will never reach the destination. So use your
wisdom to analyze whether you are in the "lane" of Right View or
Wrong View. This is the start. If you begin with the wrong
basis, the practice that follows will be wrong and difficult,
perhaps impossible, to change in this lifetime. There were many
examples of right and wrong practices in the Lord Buddha’s time.
Each leader had many followers who had faith and firm belief in
him. The followers practiced continuously and were ready to
believe their leader. This is conviction: thoughts that fool the
mind. If one lacks wisdom, one’s delusion and misunderstanding
can be so bad that any wise man cannot help one, just like the
doctor unable to cure the patient with terminal cancer. This is
what happens to a person dominated by self-regard, thinking that
his mind development is superior to others. Even if a teacher
wants to help, his good will may be refused. The person with
Wrong View thus becomes like a sick person who refuses to take
his doctor’s medicine.
Study The Noble Path Thoroughly
A Dhamma student must study and understand
the Noble Eightfold Path according to the original principles
taught in perfect order by the Lord Buddha. Do not modify or
change it, because the Lord Buddha knew best which factor of the
Noble Path should come first and which after.
To practice according to the Noble Path, one
must start with the first step, sammaditthi, Right View or Right
Understanding. From Right View develops Right Thought (sammasankapa,
the second factor) and then the other factors of the Noble Path.
Right View is therefore chief among the factors of the Noble
Path. It supports the development of the whole Noble Path.
Without it, the Noble Path can become easily distorted.
So discernment or wisdom based on Right View
is the major principle of Dhamma practice. The practice will not
be aligned with the truth if there is no wisdom to contemplate
things to their causes. A person without wisdom in Dhamma
practice is like an illiterate to whom pen and paper are
useless. Even though he tries to write something, no one can
understand it. Dhamma students must be aware of the importance
of wisdom, without which it is impossible to practice the Noble
Path to reach Nibbána.
The gist of the practice is to use wisdom to
contemplate things all around. For example, if one intends to
observe the Five-, the Eight-, the ten- or the 227-Moral
Precepts (síla), one must have wisdom to be able to practice
each precept successfully.
Sammavaca, Right Speech (the third factor of
the Noble Path), also requires wisdom to contemplate carefully
how one’s words will affect oneself and others. With wisdom one
speaks only good words, for one realizes that words, once
spoken, can never be taken back. Wisdom is used all around to
avoid wrong speech and makes the practice of Right Speech
Sammakammanta, Right Action or Right Activity
(the fourth factor) involves any physical act. Before one does
anything, one must use wisdom to contemplate the effect of that
action. A responsible person must think before action so that he
can get work done efficiently and obtain good results. He does
not suffer form his acts, and the results are in general useful
for himself and others. Be it worldly or Dhamma activity, it
requires wise investigation before doing it, as stated in the
"Nisamma karanam seyyo"
"One must contemplate all around with wisdom
before acting." In so doing one can expect very few mistakes or
none at all. A wise man must think and reason carefully, and
select only useful work to do. To be selective is in fact the
process of wisdom and should be used in all kinds of work, be it
physical work as in building construction, administrative work
of the government or any social activity. An action without
prior contemplation with wisdom tends to be the wrong action of
Sammaajuva, Right Livelihood (the fifth
factor), is also based on wisdom. One must use wisdom to acquire
living requirements, such as food, by honest means without
violating the moral precepts (the Five-, the Eight-, the Ten-,
or the 227-Precepts) that one has pledged to observe. Laymen
obtain food within the limit of their precepts, whereas monks
and novices within theirs.
Right Speech, Right Action and Right
Livelihood in the Noble Path are in fact the practice of the
moral precepts. Those who intend to observe the moral precepts
in order to purify their minds must have wisdom. Otherwise they
tend to adhere merely to the rules and rituals of the precepts,
the so-called act of silabbataparamasa. Purity of virtue without
wisdom is impossible. To practice Dhamma one must discern the
reasons existing since the Lord Buddha’s time.
Sammavayama, Right Effort (the six factor),
again requires wisdom. There are two kinds of effort: worldly
and Dhamma. Here only the latter will be discussed. One must use
wisdom to tell right from wrong effort, then attempt the right
and avoid the wrong.
Any physical or verbal effort is an
expression of mental effort. Thus all outward efforts originate
from the mind. Right Effort arises from the mind that has Right
View and Right Thought. Without wisdom to discern things in the
right way, an effort could be wrong without knowing it. Wrong
efforts accumulate defilements, craving, pride, arrogance, and
ignorance in the mind. The mind is therefore absorbed in greed,
anger, delusion, sensual pleasure, jealousy, torpor and
depression. The foolish mind does not know the Truth and drifts
blindly in the stream of sensuality.
So one must be wise all around in order to
free one’s mind from the sensual desire that has been
controlling the mind for so long. Only with wise contemplation
can the effort in Dhamma practice lead one towards the right
direction. An "effort" here means the effort to relinquish evil
and to develop virtue. It also means the effort to correct one’s
view. It is therefore the heart of Dhamma practice. If it is not
based one wisdom from the beginning, it is easily becomes a
wrong effort. On the other hand, if wisdom underlies the effort
in the practice, it is the ladder to the Final Goal. In
practicing Dhamma, one must try to contemplate the reasons
according to the original Right Effort that the Lord Buddha
taught His disciples in His time.
Sammasati, Right Mindfulness (the seventh
factor), is the use of wisdom to contemplate what the mind is
attentive about. Mindfulness (sati) alone cannot cope with
problems of the mind. It is merely the awareness of any past,
present or future mental object. In other words, it is the
awareness of what the mind thinks, but it cannot eradicate the
cause of thinking. Some preoccupations (arammana) due to
defilements and desires can be so powerful that the mind is
already infiltrated by defilements and sensuality before
mindfulness is working. When the mind is not free from
defilements, desires and ignorance arise all the time.
Mindfulness may sometimes be strong enough to know what the
defilement – inflicted mind is up to, and so, in that moment,
can free the mind from defilements. But it can do so only
temporarily. When mindfulness becomes weak, defilements and
desires resume with full strength as before.
Therefore mindfulness alone cannot completely
eradicate defilements, desires and ignorance from the mind. The
true power, which can do, so is wisdom that works by means of
contemplation to teach and enlighten the mind. It is the tool
used to dig out the roots of defilements and desires. The mind
cultivated in this way becomes wise and able to solve problems,
as stated in the Pali:
"Pannaya parisujjhati" meaning "The mind is
purified by wisdom". For this reason, wisdom arising from Right
View is the center of the Noble Path. Right Mindfulness is thus
mindfulness in line with Right View.
Sammasamadhi, Right Concentration (the eighth
factor), is based on Right View. The concentration of the mind (samádhi)*
as a process toward the enlightenment of the Truth must depend
on wisdom as its foundation. Right View enables the mind to
concentrate in the right way, and so it can support samádhi very
In practicing concentration, one cannot
expect to attain wisdom from it. You all have wisdom and use it
in your worldly life. But you may not have used it in discerning
the truth of Dhamma. Now you are a Dhamma student. You must
train yourself to contemplate things all around in the Dhamma
way, using your worldly wisdom in the beginning. In so
practicing, you gradually get used to the process of thinking
and contemplating according to the Truth. Even though your
wisdom may not be sharp in the beginning, by using it over and
over again it becomes sharper as you develop considerable
concentration. In contrast if there has been no training of
wisdom before, concentration can result only in tranquil moments
during the act of samádhi.
Concentration by itself does not create any
wisdom. It is merely the tool for the mind to halt its
restlessness temporarily. Wisdom must be developed from
contemplation of causality according to the Truth. To sharpen
one’s wisdom, one practices concentration until the mind is
calm, then withdraws from that tranquil state to work on
contemplation. By alternating concentration and contemplation,
wisdom develops wisdom can support concentration better, and the
power of a tranquil mind from concentration in turn promotes
more and more wisdom.
Practicing concentration according to the
above method is called Right Concentration in the Noble Path and
leads to progress in Dhamma practice. Concentration without
Right View is deluded concentration. It does not help develop
sharpness of wisdom even if the mind has some attentiveness. A
hermit who is very skillful in meditation can concentrate his
mind to the level of deep trance for a long period of time, but
cannot attain wisdom from it. There has not been any example of
a hermit who could get the fruitions of the Noble Path by
practicing samádhi alone. So those who try to develop their
minds by the same method as a hermit with a misunderstanding
that tranquility of the mind in samádhi can generate wisdom must
realize that wisdom develops by means of training oneself in
contemplation, not by mere samádhi practice at all.
* "Samádhi" is translated as "meditation" by
some. Here "meditation" is regarded as jhana, a more absorbed
state of mind in samádhi practice.
Wrong Samádhi Causes Unwitting Deviations
To practice concentration without correct
understanding may lead to wrong concentration, from which the
person develops abnormal perceptions, the so-called
vipassanupakkilesa. You may have heard that samádhi can cause
mental abnormality. When it happens, all perceptions arising
from the wrong samádhi are abnormal. This is the case when the
practice is without wisdom, bringing about misunderstanding in
I would like to give three suggestions to
prevent such abnormality:
1 Samadhi practice according to the Noble
Path must always be based on Right View (sammaditthi). After
each concentration exercise one must always use wisdom to
contemplate things to know and see the truth about them. If
during the practice you should perceive any new knowledge, do
not believe it right away, for it may be merely tricks of
defilements to delude the mind. There must always be wisdom in
2 For those who do not yet have wisdom as
in the Noble Path, I would suggest that they not aim at the
enlightenment of the Truth, Nibbána, while practicing samádhi.
They should not wish to employ samádhi as the means to eradicate
suffering. But they should simply practice samádhi by fixing
their minds on certain parikamma words, knowing that nay
calmness and happiness of the mind are the consequence of the
still mind in samádhi, as happening with hermits. In this way
mental abnormality will not occur.
3 Some people practice samádhi without
wisdom as in the Noble Path, but with very strong intention and
determination, and with firm belief that they will become
enlightened in the Truth and reach the final Goal, Nibbána, in
this life. They then practice samádhi with perseverance while
walking and sitting with no time for wisdom to develop at all.
They think that they can force defilements, desires and
ignorance out of their minds by practicing mindfulness and
concentration seriously. The mind without wisdom as mentioned
will be deluded by defilements and compounded thoughts. The
delusions may appear as sights, sounds, or smells. Or they may
be new knowledge that arises very clearly in the mind. In that
situation the unwise mind believes what it perceives
wholeheartedly, and the formation of defilement continues. First
there are some right things mixed with the wrong knowledge, but
later on there are only wrong views. The mind is full of wrong
knowledge and wrong views and deviates from the line of truth
In some cases knowledge arises clearly from
the calm mind in samádhi to answer all Dhamma questions in the
mind. The response seems so real as if Dhamma arose in one’s
mind. One then thinks that one is a wise and well-rounded man of
Dhamma. One believes firmly and confidently that it is the
knowledge of the Noble Truth. When the mind questions about the
Dhamma of sotápanna, Sakadagami, Anagami or arahant (the four
stages of Buddhist Nobles or holiness), one gets clear answers
in the mind. At this stage, one thinks that he has attained such
and such level of holiness. So, he appears in public and
preaches daringly and shamelessly and answers Dhamma questions
according to his own understanding without knowing about his
departure from the right path. Even though some wise men try to
give him advice, he does not accept it at all.
The deviant practice described above is due
to Wrong View in the beginning. It happens to the person who has
focused on concentration only and has paid no attention to
wisdom development based on Right View. No matter how much he
wishes to become enlightened in the Truth or how persistently he
practices samádhi hoping to get rid of defilements and to reach
Nibbána, he can never attain the Noble Attainments (ariya) in
Buddhism merely be practicing concentration. If anyone wants to
argue on this point, can you think of an example of a person who
killed defilements, desires and ignorance with samádhi alone?
In the time of the Lord Buddha, He sent His
disciples to teach the world about the Truth. He had given them
the best tool for teaching, the Noble Eightfold Path. It starts
with Right View as the important principle to assure that Dhamma
students become wise all around in the principles of the Truth
and its causal factors, able to understand the truth about the
body and mind and to analyze them as they really are. Wisdom
based on right View is in fact the basis for the establishment
and the existence of Buddhism. It is the foundation of Dhamma
practice directing toward the fruitions of the Noble Path,
Listen To Dhamma With Wisdom
In the Lord Buddha’s time those who listened
to the Lord Buddha’s or His arahant disciples’ teachings did so
attentively and analytically in order to understand the Dhamma
while listening, whether the Dhamma was about suffering (dukkha)
and its cause or the way to end suffering. In so doing some who
used wisdom while listening and were gifted with quick learning
(khippabhinna) became enlightened in the Truth at that moment.
Others who were the dhandhabhinna type could not be enlightened
as quickly. Nevertheless they could recall the Dhamma they had
heard and reconsidered it over and over again until they
attained the fruition of the Noble Path later on.
So Dhamma must be listened to with full
attention, wisdom and intelligence in order to absorb it into
the mind. It is just like having a container to store rainwater
for use all year round. The Dhamma that you have heard must be
memorized and recalled wisely at the right time. Without wisdom,
it is difficult for a person to understand the fine points of
Dhamma no matter how often he hears it or how many Dhamma books
he reads. At best he can merely remember and discuss the blatant
aspects of Dhamma.
Know The Value Of Dhamma With Wisdom
Nowadays many people are interested in
practicing mental development. They organize big or small groups
or set up centers for Dhamma practice both inside and outside
Buddhist temples. The leaders may be monks or laymen. All
centers and groups are led by competent leaders, and all aim at
the same goal, Nibbána. Many followers practice seriously with
strong determination. But most of them emphasize the practice of
concentration (samádhi) for a tranquil, tension-free and
one-pointed mind. They may be able to concentrate their minds
sometimes but not all the time, because the original nature of
the mind is restlessness. It likes to drift along the stream of
pleasant and unpleasant thoughts. In the minds of these people
there develops the idea that wisdom can arise automatically from
a calm mind in samádhi practice. They do not realize that not a
single person in Buddhist history has ever attained Nibbána in
this way. To whom and where did the Lord Buddha and His
disciples teach that way? Who attained wisdom from samádhi
practice? Who reached Nibbána by practicing samádhi alone?
There is much evidence in the Buddhist
Scriptures about how monks, nuns male and female novices, male
and female lay devotees had practiced until they became the
Noble Ones (ariyapuggala). Before they attained the fruition of
the Noble path they all had had Right View. Without wisdom based
on Right View it is impossible to follow the right path of
practice, for one is like a blind man who is lost in the middle
of a jungle or falls in the sea. How can practice without wisdom
Understand The Noble Ones
We must study the stories of the Noble Ones
in the Lord Buddha’s time to understand how they had practiced
before attaining Nibbána. The Threefold Training (sikkhattaya):
moral precepts, concentration and wisdom, is the path as stated
in theory. In practice, however, one starts with wisdom to
contemplate things right from the beginning. There are different
levels of wisdom: the elementary, the intermediate and the
ultimate. How can one wait for wisdom to occur only on the final
If one practices the moral precepts without
wisdom, how can one know that one’s practice is correct? How can
one refrain from physical, verbal and mental misconduct if he
does not have wisdom? If there is on wisdom involved in the
observance of the precepts, it is meaningless regardless of how
many times one requests the verbal precepts from the monks, for
the purity of one’s virtue does not depend on formally taking
the precepts. If would be like throwing a lump of gold to a
monkey. The monkey would pick it up, look at it and then throw
it away. So in observing the moral precepts of laymen or minks,
if done without wisdom, the rules are usually violated.
The same thing applies to samádhi practice.
Whether it is samádhi or jhana (meditation) or Samapatti
(meditative attainment), it is merely a volitional activity that
is impermanent and uncertain. It arises and degenerates in a
cycle. This sort of practice if done without wisdom is like
chasing one’s own shadow, or pointing a flashlight toward the
sky or spending a vacation for too long. It is a waste of time.
If one does not have wisdom in Dhamma practice, one may be
forever caught up in chasing after the states of mind that spin
around - arising, remaining and deterioration – without ever
being able to find one’s way out.
Right Interpretation Of The Noble Path
Samádhi is merely a means to ease suffering
temporarily. It cannot eradicate suffering absolutely. It cannot
prevent the mind from wrong understanding. If it could, why do
some people cling to samádhi thinking incorrectly that wisdom
could arise from the calm mind in samádhi? Is such understanding
right? Is it Right View? Or is it Wrong View? You must decide
this for yourself, for this is the major fork in the road. If
one chooses the right way, it will bring one to Nibbána. If one
chooses the wrong road and never changes one’s mind, one is like
a man falling into a rapid steam, yet refusing to hold on to the
shore. The man will surely flow downstream.
So the practice for Nibbána relies greatly on
wisdom to contemplate things all around. This is a very narrow
channel, a precise maneuver, for once one gets into this
channel, Nibbána can be expected. Going through a wrong channel
makes it impossible to reach Nibbána unless one realizes it and
changes in time. There is only one path towards Nibbána. The
Lord Buddha and all the Noble Ones in the past passed through
this Noble Eightfold Path and taught it to us. The Lord Buddha
and the Noble Ones guaranteed the practice according to the
Noble Path, and anyone who does not stick to this path can never
Do Not Understand Unreasonably
There are different teachings nowadays, and
the method of Dhamma practice mentioned so far is for you to
consider. Even thought I say that this is the middle path (majjhima)
directing towards Nibbána, it could be merely words from my own
understanding. All teachers of Dhamma practice claim that their
ways are right. Therefore I leave it to you to consider and use
your own judgment to decide whether what I say is reasonable or
not. The teachings of the Lord Buddha are reasonable and
truthful. Every sentence spoken by Him is the truth, be it about
worldly or spiritual matters. If the Lord Buddha said that
something was wrong, it is always wrong. If He said it was
right, it is right. The Lord Buddha said that good causes bring
good results, and bad causes bad results. This must always be
true. The Lord Buddha preached about happiness, suffering Hell,
Heaven and Nibbána. They are all true.
Not only the Lord Buddha but also the arahant
disciples ho followed His teachings were enlightened in the
Truth. The truth of the Lord Buddha and His disciples was
written in Tipitaka, the three Divisions of the Buddhist Cannon.
In it there are truths about wholesomeness in the Sense Sphere (kamavacarakusala);
for example, giving, practicing the moral precepts, working for
the public. There are truths about physical, verbal and mental
unwholesomeness causing beings to exist in the States of Misery
(apayabhumi) – beings in niraya (Hell), peta (hungry ghosts),
asurakaya (demons) and tiracchana (animals). The Lord Buddha
preached about those proven things so that we will try to
abandon evil, to develop virtue and to practice Dhamma in the
So every Dhamma student should be confident
in his own ability. Do not expect any praise or any prediction
from others. Even though you may seek help from some teachers,
it is only the study part. The practical part is your own
responsibility. You must rely on yourself. Nobody can help you
get rid of the accumulating defilements (asavakilesa) in your
mind. You have to develop your wits for Dhamma practice and
understand Dhamma clearly, for the Noble Path, the Noble
Fruitions and Nibbána are taught only in Buddhism. A Buddha does
not always appear on this Earth. Once a Buddha is born, it will
take a long-long time before the coming of the next Buddha. The
teachings of all Buddhas in the past, present or future are the
same. The Buddhas taught beings to refrain from all sins, to do
good deeds and to purify the mind. The Lord Buddha had effective
teaching methods to suit different personalities.
The Lord Buddha’s teachings can be classified
into two major categories:
1 The teachings about kamavacarakusala.
2 The teachings about yogavacarakusala.
Kamavacarakusala can be explained
extensively. But here it is briefly described as any good deed
or virtue performed physically, verbally or mentally. It gives
desirable results for those who are still pleased with the Sense
Spheres, for example, rebirth as human beings or gods. The
effect of their wholesomeness in the past will help relieve
their sufferings wherever they may be born.
Don’t Be Careless In Life
The Lord Buddha taught about the yogavacara
at the higher level of Dhamma. Yogavacara is the one who seeks
the way out of the Three Spheres of Beings: the Sense sphere (kamabhava),
the fine Material Sphere (rupabhava) and the Immaterial Sphere (arupabhava).
He will try every way to get out of the Three Spheres. A
yogavacara can be a man, woman, monk, novice, nun or síla
practicing layperson. A yogavacara behaves like a bird or an
animal in captivity that restlessly searches for its way out. An
encaged bird uses its beak to peck at its cage over and over
again each day hoping that someday it will be able to escape.
So a Dhamma student who is a true yogavacara
never indulges himself in life. He tries not to attach himself
to the materialistic pleasures that the world seems to enjoy. On
the contrary, he always finds ways to escape from the "worldly
cage". He uses wisdom to contemplate suffering (dukkha) in life
and realizes that he has been reborn on this same Earth for so
many times, so many aeons in an endless cycle. Each life was
different. In some lives he was a very rich man surrounded by
abundant sensual pleasure. In others he was but a hopeless poor
man who survived by begging for leftover food from kind people.
When you give something to a beggar, think about it and thing
further that you surely had the same miserable experience in
your past loves, and could have it again in future lives.
Teach Your Mind With Wisdom
Think often about how you would feel if you
were others this is a good reminder for the mind to accept the
differences in the state of human beings. Train your mind to see
the truth of the world comprehensively and to realize that the
world has been like this for a long time and will be forever.
Use your wisdom to think about human beings, and you will gain
understanding of the inequality of the human state. Some are
very rich and have a surplus of wealth. Others are very poor and
miserable. Even though they do not wish to be in that situation
(i.e., vibhavatanha), they still get it because there was the
prior cause for it.
It is human nature to do and take whatever
one is pleased with without an understanding that it is the
cause of further suffering. But when suffering comes as a
result, nothing can change it, and one must bear with it. So a
Dhamma student must teach his mind until he is perceptive with
regard to the cause-and-effect relationships of all activities.
The well-trained mind is wise and knows all around. Before one
believes in anything, one must think it over, as stated in the
"Nisamma karanam seyyo".
One must think carefully before believing
anything. It is the original nature of the mind to reach out
unselectively for all sense objects: pleasant or unpleasant. If
the object is unpleasant, the mind suffers. It is just like an
innocent baby who grasps everything, even dirt, and puts it into
his mouth. If one’s mind does not have wisdom to control it, one
will think, say and do according to what desires and defilements
direct him to with no sense of right and wrong. Later on when
bad results occur, one may realize it but it is often too late
to use wisdom to cope with it.
So those who want to train their minds in the
yogavacara way must be highly responsible persons who have a
meticulous and sophisticated strategy. When the mind suffers
from depression or anxiety, wisdom must be used to reflect on
the cause of the suffering. Teach the mind with wisdom and train
it to be prepared not to repeat the same cause again. Wisdom
must be ready to solve the problem in time before feelings of
greed, passion, hatred and delusion ever get a chance to intrude
in the mind. Those feelings, once arisen, are difficult to
subside if you do not have enough intelligence to cope with
them. However, when a feeling does happen, you must try to look
carefully into its cause with wisdom before sankharacitta
(compounded thinking of the mind) expands and elaborates on the
cause, just like quickly extinguishing a fire before it spreads.
So if a feeling of love and passion begins to form, you must
quickly use wisdom to stop ti, for if you let the feeling become
too intense, the mind will sink deeply in sensuality, and
feelings of greed, hatred, passion and delusion will follow. The
mind suffers and is caught up in defilements and desires 24
hours a day. One becomes attached to, dreams about and longs for
more sensual pleasure.
Intelligence Comes From One’s Own Wisdom
The use of wisdom to teach the mind is the
important principle. If wisdom is not sharp, it is not powerful
enough to destroy the old views in the mind, because the mind
has been attached to sensuality for a long time. It is just like
very dirty clothes that cannot be washed clean by a small amount
of detergent. So, weak wisdom is inadequate for developing the
mind that has been covered densely with defilements and craving.
Even though one may memorize the knowledge and the wisdom of the
teachers, others’ wisdom cannot be used to clean defilements and
desires out of one’s own mind. One must develop wisdom of one’s
own, as in the story of Phra Pothila in the Lord Buddha’s time.
Phra Pothila had studied the Dhamma of the
Lord Buddha and the Noble Ones extensively until he was very
proficient in "borrowed" Dhamma and was a great Dhamma lecturer
in that time. Pothila had a close friend who also entered the
monk-hood. His friend studied the practical side of the Dhamma
and went out in the woods for austere practice. Not too long
afterwards he became an arahant. Later on Pothila heard the news
about his friend coming out of the woods. Pothila arrogantly
thought, "My friend is stupid. Why did he not acquire knowledge
for himself from studying? How can he ever gain knowledge from
sitting and closing his eyes in the woods? I must go to see him
and test his knowledge". He then left for his friend’s place. At
that time the Lord Buddha knew by insight (mama) about Pothila’s
idea, and he knew beforehand that Pothila would ridicule his
friend when the arahant could not answer Pothila’s questions
about studied knowledge (pariyatti). The Lord knew that
Pothila’s act would be so sinful that it would lead him to Hell,
and so He intended to stop it. The Lord then went and arrived at
the same time as Pothila. After the two monks paid homage to the
Lord Buddha, He started to ask the arahant questions. The
arahant answered the Lord’s questions very fluently, correctly
and completely, and the Lord praised him and said, "My son, you
have finished all the work that needs to be done".
Pothila, listening to the Lord Buddha’s
profound questions and his friend’s sharp answers, got very
worried. If similar questions were directed o him, he would not
be able to answer them. Then came his turn. Pothila almost
fainted because of his shame at not being able to answer the
Lord’s questions. He sweated heavily in panic, just like a
rain-wet baby bird, paid respect to the Lord Buddha and said, "I
cannot answer the questions, my Lord". The Lord Buddha said
then, "Pothila, knowledge from studying without practicing is
knowledge that cannot demolish defilements, desires and
ignorance in the mind, and so it cannot purify the mind. Such
knowledge is simply a book that you carry with you".
Having heard the Lord Buddha’s words, Pothila
was aware of his mistake and decided that from then on he would
not teach Dhamma, but would attentively practice Dhamma to reach
Pothila traveled on to search for a teacher
who would teach him the practice of Dhamma, but no one accepted
him as his student. Eventually he met an arahant novice and
asked if he could be his student. Being an arahant, the novice
knew well how to get rid of Pothila’s egocentric pride. He did
so by forcing Pothila to wade in the pond several times until
Pothila abandoned all his pride. After that the novice taught
him the Dhamma practice, and soon Pothila reached the state of
arahant. This happened in the Lord Buddha’s time.
Pothila’s story is a good example. I am in no
position to say whether there are any "Phra Pothilas" nowadays,
but it is not difficult to fine "Mr. Pothilas" or "Mrs. Pothilas"
whose egocentric pride not only comes from too much studying,
but also from status, wealth, rank and position. There are many
other ways that egocentric pride can develop. Without sharp
wisdom one can expect that acquisition, rank, praise and
happiness can all give rise to egocentric pride.
Confusion In The Methods Of Practice
Many Dhamma students are not sure about the
methods of practice. They all want the method that is correct
and goes straight to Nibbána. None wants to waste time on any
curves. When you ask ten teachers, you may get ten different
"direct" ways and become confused about Dhamma practice. You may
become unsure about which is right and which is wrong; which is
direct and which is indirect. This confusion and uncertainty can
deter one from exerting all one’s effort and patience into the
practice. One dares not decide which method to follow strictly
and so practices Dhamma on and off with a doubtful mind. This
delays the practice, and perhaps defilements may mislead one to
believe that one has not accumulated enough wholesome causes in
the past to practice Dhamma successfully, and so gives up
completely. Instead of entering the Dhamma stream in this
present life, one is satisfied just to do wholesome things now
for better future lives.
So a Dhamma student must use his own wisdom
and reason to decide about the method of practice for himself.
He must understand the steps in Dhamma practice. Even though he
may not be strong enough to attain the Final Goal – the
cessation of suffering – now, at least he is holding on to the
right thing and continuously practicing it with perseverance.
Therefore the wise path is to analyze the methods of practice to
select the right way to build up self-confidence. At first you
must study the way wise men have followed and understand the
basic steps until you are confident that they are right. Then
practice accordingly, always using your own reason wisely. You
must rely on yourself, your ability and reason to avoid
mistakes, to get rid of indecisiveness and not to waste time on
practicing on and off.
A Dhamma student must look at things within
and without in all aspects. He must use wisdom for critical
reflection in accordance with the Truth, because the Truth lies
in everything. No one can change it, neither can anyone have
control over it. For example, aging, illness and death occur
naturally. Nothing can stop them or keep them unchanged forever.
It is beyond anyone’s capacity to change them. No matter how
much one does not want them, one cannot get what one wishes.
There is nothing in this world that can go on as one wishes. On
the contrary, one is always disappointed regardless of how hard
one tries to have one’s wishes come true. The Lord Buddha said,
"Suffering comes from not getting what one whishes." So you must
use wisdom to think critically about your needs. Even if some
needs are met, how can you maintain the joy of having them met?
Soon suffering will follow.
When you acquire and possess anything, don’t
be sure yet that it is really yours. In the worldly sense, it
is. But a wise Dhamma student will reflect critically about what
happens to him or what he gets and what effect can be expected.
For each cause there is always an effect, and one must use
wisdom to plan ahead and to prepare for the way out. This helps
ease suffering as we live on Earth. Those who suffer either
physically or mentally and lament strongly are the ones who have
latched on to this world. Those who intend to go beyond the
stream of the world must know the world in all its aspects. They
must learn that they can take nothing in the world as their own.
Everything is an illusion. Worldly objects change according to
the law of impermanence (anicca). It is natural that people are
disappointed about what they lose, for they do not know that
suffering is the result of attachment: the greater the
attachment, the greater the suffering which follows.
You live in this world, and you must know it
well with your wisdom. Think analytically about it. Is there any
object in this world that is really yours, that you can take
with you forever? You must consider causal relations and see
clearly that everything is merely for use temporarily. Nothing
is yours forever. Those who misunderstand tings as being theirs
attach to that idea firmly without any insight into the truth of
the impermanence and "not-selfness" (anattá) of all things. When
"their" things degenerate with time, they lament uncontrollable.
Live In The World Without Getting Lost In
A Dhamma student must be careful person who
discerns things reasonably to decrease the suffering of the
mind. It is like going into the jungle: One must mark the way
in, so that one can find one’s way out. Otherwise one will get
lost in the jungle. We have got lost in this world for a long
time. Even though we have passed through the gate of this world
many times already, we are not wise enough to realize that the
gateway out of it is in fact the Three Characteristics (tilakkhana),
which are the guarantee of the truth. These are the signposts
for those who want to leave the wheel of rebirth (vattasamsara).
They are the center of the Three Spheres of Being: the Sense
Sphere, the Fine Material Sphere and the Immaterial Formless
Sphere. All of these spheres follow the rule of the tilakkhana.
Among the three spheres, the Sense Sphere should be most
emphasized because we beings are most interested in it.
The Sense Sphere is subdivided into many
levels, for example, heavenly beings, human beings, animals and
hungry ghosts. Each is further subdivided into many groups, but
all are under the rule of the tilakkhana. Life in the Sense
Sphere is full of suffering (dukkha) in body and mind. There is
no freedom of the mind and body, and this makes life hard to
endure. One must struggle for a living from day to day. For
human beings and animals whose bodies are composed of visible
and rough materials, the struggling is evident physically.
As for those who are considerable clever,
they can acquire the physical requisites to nurture their
bodies. For them, money may not be the problem, but still their
lives may not always go smoothly. They may have other problems:
for example, family quarrels, infidelity and problem children,
etc. the suffering from family affairs is certain to happen.
Even though one does not experience it in this life, one will in
future lives. Or if one does not suffer from family problems,
one will from others, e.g., illness. There are so many rich
people lying ill in the hospitals. You must contemplate all of
this to let the mind realize the hardships of life, both yours
and that of others.
Unavoidable suffering is the suffering that
comes with the aggregate of body and mind (khandha). It occurs
to even a wealthy person replete with sensual pleasures. The
body that is occupied by the mind experiences this kind of
suffering, because the body and mind are themselves the site and
the source of suffering. Although no one wants to suffer, and
everyone tries to stay away from it, for example, by resorting
to sensual pleasure in form, sound, smell, taste and touch, one
can never succeed. No one can avoid this suffering because it is
the truth of the khandha. It shows openly all the time whether
we are standing, walking, sitting or lying down. One changes
one’s bodily posture to avoid suffering, but this succeeds only
temporarily. Not one single posture can be regarded as a
pleasant posture. One suffers from standing too long. One also
suffers from walking, sitting or lying down too long.
Where can one find happiness from the
aggregate of body and mind? Pleasant forms, sounds, smells,
tastes and tactile sensations are merely temporary retreats from
suffering. But they are not good, because they intensify
suffering even more. Instead of extinguishing the fire, they add
more fuel to it. Therefore it is unwise to extinguish the fire
this way. One must realize that one’s pleasure in forms, sounds,
smells, tastes and tactile sensations is merely a means to put
the suffering out of the mind temporarily. Eventually the
external senses become good sources of suffering. From these
sense receptors arise delight or sadness that increases passion,
hatred and delusion. The Lord Buddha said that if the six sense
receptors – eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind –were not
controlled, and instead were allowed to latch on to forms,
sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations and mental objects,
suffering would surely result. These things also invite other
suffering into the mind. So try to use wisdom to contemplate the
truth of suffering so as to comprehend it fully.
Aging, illness and death are also unavoidable
suffering. No matter how much one is afraid of them, one cannot
escape from them. Their cause is being and birth. Aging, illness
and death are the result of being of the Three Spheres of
Existence. So a Dhamma student, not wanting suffering, must
contemplate birth to understand clearly the state of his present
life so as to get rid of attachment (upadana) to future lives.
With sharp wisdom one can cut across the stream of attachments
that cause the cycle of birth. One then becomes analayo, no more
clinging to any worldly object. At this stage one is ready to
destroy the cause of birth, as stated in the Pali:
"Samulam tanham abbhuyha" meaning "One who
has pulled out the desires and their roots completely".
This is the end of the practice. This is the
end of the practice. To reach this end, one must have the right
start, that is, Right View. One must stick to the Truth firmly.
Although the worldly stream is taking you downstream, you must
try to go against it. Do not let your mind drift along with the
flow of defilements and desires. Use wisdom to contemplate
suffering and its cause all the time. The Lord Buddha regarded
suffering as the main and important principle in Dhamma
practice. In Enlightenment, the Lord Buddha discovered the Four
Noble Truths (ariyasacca): suffering (dukkha), the cause of
suffering (samudaya), the cessation of suffering (nirodha) and
the path to cessation of suffering (Magga). As Dhamma students,
you should already know the meanings of these words. If you take
each of them to contemplate, you will come to see clearly the
techniques of the practice.
Extinguish Suffering And Its Cause With
The Lord Buddha took suffering as his first
point because it is something that appears blatantly in the body
and mind. It has occurred continuously since birth and as a
result of birth. Always use wisdom to think analytically about
suffering. If you are not aware of the suffering happening to
your body and mind, you will never know the cause of suffering.
And if you do not know the cause of suffering, the suffering due
to birth will surely happen to you again and again. A Dhamma
student must try to understand this point because it is the
point of returning to the state of being. The word "vatta"
means, "cycling". Each being recycles at this point – its
ignorance about the cause for the cycling of lives. The result
of the ignorance is that one is cycling endlessly in the wheel
of rebirth. So the cause of suffering is the important turning
point, the very subtle one that can be understood by the refined
insight of wisdom. The cause of suffering, when known, can be
destroyed with sharp wisdom, and the cycle is torn apart.
Dhamma practice to know and see the Noble
Truths requires sharpness of wisdom to discern and analyze the
truth in terms of cause and effect. One must think analytically
about suffering, its cause and the techniques to eliminate its
cause. Nirodha or the cessation of suffering is the final result
that one needs not be concerned about. It is the Dhamma known
only for oneself when one’s practice reaches a point of
fullness. When one reaches that point, nirodha will be the
Dhamma that destroys defilements completely. At that point even
though one has never learned the meaning of nirodha before, it
will not be a problem. Nirodha is the destination at the end of
the road. When walking along the road there is no need to worry
about the destination. One needs not anticipate what it is like.
As long as one follows the right way, one will see the end of
the road for oneself, with no need to ask anyone what the end is
like; what freedom from suffering, defilement, craving and
ignorance in the mind is like; how purity with no states of
being and birth will be experienced. These are things that
should not be conjectured about. In the very second that one
reaches the level of the Noble Ones, one knows for oneself with
no need to ask anyone at all.
The important thing is to practice the Dhamma
in accordance with the Noble Path. The Four Foundations of
Mindfulness (Satipatthána): body, feeling, mind and Dhamma, are
also incorporated into the Noble Path. Right Thought, Right
Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right
Mindfulness and Right Concentration in the Noble Path are
controlled by Right View. Right View is like the airplane
captain or the automobile driver who alone knows where to go can
take all of his passengers to the destination safely. Right View
is therefore the "compass" of the Noble Path, followed by Right
Thought in contemplating causality in line with the Truth. So
wisdom based on Right View is the most important factor.
With wise contemplation, any pain or
suffering – headache, toothache, aching of other parts of the
body, of yourself, of others or of animals – is narrowed down to
only one cause, that is, the state of being born. One must use
wisdom to discern suffering due to birth and use it often as the
technique to teach one’s mind to see things as they really are.
In so doing, one will be awed by the suffering due to birth.
If you rely on what I write or what I
understand, you will not be able to reach the state of paccattam
(knowing for oneself). So I want you to rely on your own wisdom.
Knowing and seeing suffering clearly with your own wisdom will
make you feel dispassionate about being born again. When this
happens there is a way to cut across the stream of rebirths
Sharpen Wisdom To Kill Defilements And
There are many causes of birth, but I will
give brief explanations only of three: craving for sensuality (kamatanha),
craving for existence (bhavatanha) and craving for non-existence
(vibhavatanha). Apart from these I will leave it up to you to
develop your own wisdom by contemplating things on your own. I
have given you a knife and a knife sharpener. It is your own
work to sharpen your knife and to use it to cut things by
yourself, that is, to sharpen your wisdom for the contemplation
of the causes of rebirth. I have given you a pen and paper. You
must try to write by yourself. At first your handwriting may not
be pretty, the spelling not all correct, and the style not
smooth, but you should keep trying until you eventually become
skilled. The same analogy holds for reading or doing anything.
Firm intent is what matters.
Craving for sensuality (kamatanha) is
subdivided into two categories:
1 Sensual objects (vatthukama)
2 Sensual moods (kilesakama).
The first is any object or physical property
that one is attached to. You must contemplate only the objects
for which you crave, because your purpose is to reduce the
craving and attachment, which are based on those objects. You
must analyze the objects down to the truth, that is, dukkham
(the state of being hare – to – endure or suffering), aniccam
(the state of impermanence) and anattá (the state of being
not-self). To contemplate the dukkha of an object, try to see
that the object does not really belong to you. If you are very
pleased with it and your mind becomes attached to it, you will
suffer a great deal when you happen to lose or damage it. Some
may cry uncontrollably or faint. This is the suffering one will
get if one does not contemplate it beforehand.
There Is No Happiness In Sensual Pleasure
Sensual moods are the condition in which the
mind is pleased and attached to sensual pleasure in form, sound,
smell, taste and touch. The mind enjoys the mood of affection,
love and sexual desire and tries to seek for more. The mind
deluded in this way is common in the world. The Lord Buddha and
his arahant disciples also had desires for objects and sensual
pleasure before they reached Nibbána, but with sharp wisdom they
were able to cut the attachment to those desires.
You must therefore be prepared. Try to use
your wisdom to analyze things down to the truth in order to get
rid of your old understanding about them. Try to uproot the
mind’s attachment to such desires by teaching it until it knows
and sees clearly the harmful consequence of sensual pleasures.
This is the simple means of contemplation that helps develop
wisdom more and more elaborately. One must use one’s own wisdom
that has been built up as a weapon to kill defilements and
desires in one’s mind. One cannot borrow others’ wisdom. If you
have sufficient wisdom to fight against your enemy – defilements
and desires – you are regarded as wised in terms of Dhamma
Craving for the state of existence is the
state of mind that is satisfied with its present state of being
and does not want to change. One craves for being in the same
state forever. For example, one likes being a human being and so
craves to be reborn in the human world again. It does not
interest one at all when people talk about how happy Heaven or
the Brahma world is. One is pleased with the present world and
becomes very attached to it. When one dies, one’s mind is still
attached to one’s worldly objects, including one’s beloved
descendants and belongings. One wishes to be reborn in the same
family line again. One’s mind is attached to the acquisitions,
social status, praise and happiness one has (suvannata susarata
susanthanan surupata adhikiccam parivaro) and wishes to have the
same things always.
Another example is an angel in Heaven who
enjoys heavenly happiness and wishes to be in the same state
forever. Nevertheless the state of being an angel is not
maintained by wishing. It is maintained by one’s past virtues.
The truth about impermanence operates all the time, and no one
can always have his wish come true. He is forced to depart from
what he likes or where he likes to be. Since one’s mind is
smothered with delusion and ignorance, wherever one is reborn
one tends to be attached to one’s new state of being and forgets
about one’s past lives. One is always content with the present
state. So one must use wisdom to contemplate the present state
of being to which one has fallen, in order to develop the mind
to know and see clearly the truth about that sate of being.
Craving Always Causes Suffering
Craving for non-existence is the craving not
to be born in an undesirable state. For instance, an angel in
the heavenly state does not want to be in the human state. Rich
people enjoying sensual pleasure do not want to be born in poor
families. They do not want to be handicapped or be reborn in the
four lower worlds: Hell, peta, asurakaya or the animal state.
Nevertheless one must be born in the state in accordance with
one’s past action. Bad deeds exert their effect as rebirth in a
state of misery. No one can demand the state he wishes. We are
just like prisoners who cannot demand the living conditions –
food, bed, etc. – we like. The same thing applies to human
action. One has to experience the result of one’s bad actions
until their effects are exhausted. Those who are not wise enough
to see this causal relation indulge themselves in sensuality,
and o unwholesome things. When the time for the bad effects
come, they can hardly endure the suffering.
So a Dhamma student must use wisdom to
contemplate the causes of the suffering. Craving for sensuality,
craving for existence and craving for non-existence are the
three sources from which all beings – human, animal, etc. –
build up the causes of suffering during their lives. Craving is
the cause of the cycling of birth in the Three Spheres of Being.
If the cause is abolished, the Three Spheres no longer exist.
This brief description of the three types of craving – kamatanha,
bhavatanha and vibhavatanha – should give you some understanding
of the way of practice. These three forms of craving are a
turning wheel, which keeps us spinning in circles. Most people
misunderstand that craving brings happiness. Just think
carefully: Who gets true happiness from craving? Contemplate
things with wisdom to let the mind realize that the craving,
which directs your life, can never bring happiness. At present
we lack wisdom, and so are dragged along by craving.
Defilements and craving have pulled us around
the Three Spheres of Being for a long time and will go on
endlessly. Do you want to leave your life in the hands of
defilements and craving? Why do you not use wisdom to
contemplate the past, present and future of your existence? What
things of value did you ever get from your past lives?
Beings once in existence must busy themselves
in day-to-day struggling to stay alive. Before long, their
bodies age, become ill and die, and the dead bodies accumulate
in the soil. No one can ever take any possession with him. This
happened in our past lives, is happening now and will happen
again in future lives. Things are changing. There is nothing
certain enough to cling to. They change according to the
principle of anicca, and lead only to despair. To believe that
the four elements (dhatu) and the five aggregates (khandha)
comprising one’s body and mind are one’s own is only a
misunderstanding coming from delusion and ignorance. Neither is
in any way one’s own. Knowing of this truth will make one
abandon attachment and possessiveness. As a matter of fact,
anattá (not-selfness) announces itself openly. One can witness
it in the cemeteries and the crematoriums, where everybody ends
up. Where then is one’s self (atta)? Although one is alive now
and still has a living body, soon this "self" will be
meaningless. So try to use wisdom in examining the truth to
develop the mind until it knows and sees in terms of the Four
Seeing Through Conventional Truth
A Dhamma student must understand the
principles of sammati (meaning convention, conventional truth,
supposition), so that he is not deluded by it. Life depends on
sammati. So as long as we are alive we should try to understand
these things for what they are. Things in life are interrelated
and temporary. Soon they will depart no matter how much you cry
and regret their departure. A Dhamma student must therefore be
prepared to face this situation. When it comes, he will not
We must take care of our belongings with
responsibility and acquire them by honest and moral means. At
the same time we must always realize that our possessions are
merely a supposition or sammati. We ourselves are our own
sammati, and others are theirs. Everyone has the right to make
use of sammati for his own benefit, in honest ways. So one
should use wisdom to contemplate sammati in the world and
understand it clearly as it is. In so doing there is a way to
terminate delusion. If we know and understand how the stream of
the world cycles, we are seeking the channel to get out of the
Three Spheres of Existence. We are contemplating the very point
in which the mind has been deluded to see which aspects of the
world we still do not understand, which forms of sammati we are
still using to obscure the truth, keeping ourselves in a world
of dreams and infatuations. As long as worldly sammati obscures
the truth, the truth cannot appear to the mind, and the mind
will be blind about the world forever.
Therefore Dhamma practice must have a good
foundation. One cannot eradicate defilements, craving, ignorance
and attachment by unreasonable understanding. Many say
irresponsibly that when the mind attains tranquility in samádhi
practice, the mind will be purified. Both the teachers and the
followers of this school of thought misunderstand the matter.
The misunderstanding of one teacher leads to the
misunderstanding of thousands of people. The teaching that the
mind becomes purified by samádhi is against the Lord Buddha’s
teachings. The Lord taught "Pannaya parisujjhati", meaning "The
mind is purified by wisdom". The mind is not purified by samádhi.
It is often said that samádhi frees the mind
from sensation, defilements, desires, ignorance and all
compounded thoughts. Those who say so forget about the hermits
who are very skillful in samádhi practice to such high levels of
tranquility as rupajhana (absorption of the Fine Material
Sphere) and arupajhana (absorption of the Immaterial Formless
Sphere). But no hermits attain purity of the mind by samádhi.
Such a principle does not exist in Buddhism, and there is no
reason it should be taught so as to mislead people. Purity of
mind happens only to an arahant. Even the sotápanna, Sakadagami,
and Anagami (the three lower levels of the Noble Ones) do not
yet have absolute purity of mind. A Dhamma student must
understand this, which is the right view in accordance with the
Noble Path, in order to attain the Noble Fruitions in the
Nowadays the Noble Path and its fruitions are
interpreted differently. When the mind of a person reaches a
tranquil state in samádhi, his mind is free temporarily. At this
point he may think that he has reached a certain stage of Dhamma
or attained sure insight knowledge in line with what he studied
before. He compares his mind with what he has studied about the
arahant or other Noble Ones. The word "paccattam" (knowing for
oneself) is meaningless for him. He wants the teacher to
proclaim his Dhamma level. In fact this is not the behavior of
a Noble One.
Dhamma students must understand clearly what
it means to attain the level of the Noble Ones. If not, they may
misunderstand that the brightness or tranquility of the mind as
a result of samádhi is a Noble Attainment. Or when a mental
image appears to them in samádhi, they may think that they have
attained certain insight knowledge.
The differences in Dhamma practice are due to
different interpretations of Dhamma. In many places, signs are
put up such as "Vipassana School" (meaning school for insight or
wisdom development), but in reality they do not practice insight
development at all. They practice concentration by means of
fixing mind on certain themes to reach a tranquil state of the
mind. This is a misuse of words. There is a difference between "vipassana"
and "samatha"; the latter means concentration development. The
two have different means of practice.
To practice samatha, one uses mindfulness to
fix the mind on certain parikamma words or on the breath.
Mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati) is the means to keep the
mind with the present to avoid thinking about other things. When
the mind withdraws from tranquility, one then practices
To practice vipassana one uses wisdom to
contemplate things all around in accordance with the truth – the
tilakkhana, consisting of dukkham, aniccam and anattá; or the
truth about one’s own birth, aging, illness and death, and that
of others; or the truth about the foulness of one’s own body,
and that of others. The practice is for the mind to see all
things as having the same basic nature. The techniques of the
contemplation must make use of memory, supposition and
compounded thinking about the past, present and future. These
tools are a double-edged sword. If used in the wrong way, they
can be harmful. For example, memories about forms, sounds,
smells tastes and tactile sensation can invite defilements and
desires into the mind giving rise to sexual desire, passion and
When there are sights that we love and sounds
that appeal to us, our memories of them will be hard to forget.
If we are infatuated with a sight, the memory of it will be
firmly impressed on the heart. When this is the case, sammati
will arise concerning where you saw that beautiful form; what
sort of complexion she had; what sort of figure; what you said
to each other. Once these sammati arise, sankhárá expands on and
elaborates them, imagining that you said things which you didn’t
or made contact when no contact took place. Your mind, which is
already imbued with passion, delusion and ignorance, feels even
more longing and attachment for that form. What has actually
happened is that the mind has simply been painting pictures and
falling for its own pictures, so that it becomes caught up in
its dreams and attachments, while its sensual desires grow
deeper and deeper day by day, becoming more and more difficult
A Dhamma student must use wisdom to find a
deft way to eradicate harmful memories, suppositions and
fabricated thoughts from the mind, using mindfulness to restrain
the heart and wisdom to contemplate the negative side of sights,
sounds, etc., at all times.
You have seen so many deaths in your life.
Why do you not contemplate the death of others and refer it to
your own impending death, so that your mind can gain a sense of
the awesomeness of death? We enjoy bodily pleasures because we
do not think about our own death. From now on use sammati to
think about death in order to decrease defilements and craving.
This is the technique of using sammati to eradicate sammati.
We are used to letting sankhárá fabricate our
thinking about form and sound until the mind is full of passion
and desire. From now on change your thinking. See it from the
other side. Think against the stream. You have thought about
beauty that fills your mind with passion and desire. From now on
you will think about the foulness of the body, the suffering of
the body and mind. Think about the impermanence of everything.
Think about anattá, the lack of self. Nothing really belongs to
you, not your property or even your body. Let the mind realize
this not-selfness. Soon it will depart. You depend on it only
while you are alive. This is the technique of thinking in the
Dhamma way to counteract sankhárá. Use thinking to counteract
thinking. Those who want to get away from this world must know
it in all aspects so as to make the mind awed and weary of being
born, as stated in the Pali:
"Natthi loke raho nama" meaning "There are no
secrets in the world". Use wisdom to unmask completely the
secrets of the world.
This is to suggest a way to practice samatha
(concentration) and vipassana (insight) using the words of
conventional truth to talk about or to teach Dhamma practice in
the right way, so that those who follow the teaching will not
misunderstand. Do not be like a blind man leading the blind.
There is some hope of success if those with good eyes lead the
blind, but at any rate if you do not make it to the goal, make
sure at least that you do not let the blind lead you back to
where you came from. Many people still misunderstand Dhamma
practice. They think that wisdom arises from calmness of the
mind in samádhi. If it were true, why is it that the
non-Buddhist hermits never attained wisdom?
In vipassana practice one uses wisdom to
contemplate, think and review causality reasonable and
intelligently in accordance with the Truth. You already have
wisdom and mindfulness, but you have not used them in Dhamma
practice. You use them to think in the worldly sense all day
without knowing that this brings sadness and sorrow to the mind.
You think actively about sensual pleasure in line with your
defilements and compounded thoughts. Why can you not do the same
thing in the Dhamma sense? You have tied the knots and so must
learn how to untie them. You have coated yourself with dirt, and
so must know how to clean yourself. You know that you are
drifting along in the stream of the world, so you must turn
around and go against the stream. Do not let your mind flow
downstream to the lower places.
Teach yourself to contemplate things with
wisdom over and over again. When you do so, wisdom gradually
increases, as in learning to read and write a foreign language.
You develop skill by reading and writing often. In contemplation
you may stumble in the beginning; for instance, you may
contemplate in fits and starts, pondering for a while and then
forgetting about is, without any technique for expanding on your
insights. In the beginning it is bound to be like this, but
after you have contemplate again and again, you are sure to
become skilled. The wisdom of Right View that is developed in
this way is the important basis. If you do not have it, you
cannot develop your mind after you withdraw from concentration.
But if you do, then after each concentration exercise you can
discern things with wisdom. When you are tired of contemplation,
you shift to concentration again.
This is the principle of wisdom supporting
concentration and concentration supporting wisdom. The two
support each other. Crude wisdom supports crude concentration.
Intermediate wisdom supports intermediate concentration. In
turn, crude concentration supports crude wisdom; intermediate
concentration supports intermediate wisdom; and subtle
concentration supports subtle wisdom. So samatha and vipassana
connect in practice. Whichever comes first depends on yourself.
You should observe yourself to see what is right for you.
Remember that you must develop your own wisdom in Dhamma
In this book, I have not explained what
happens as the result of Dhamma practice, for I have already
done so in my other books: "Going Against the Stream", "Cutting
Off the Stream" and "Crossing the Stream". I am ready to answer
any questions you may have from reading my books. Both the
writer and the readers aim principally at having Right View. So
may I bless you and my Dhamma students who have contributed to
the printing of this book. May you be able to know the Truth
with sharp wisdom by relying on your own ability, in line with
the truth that one must be one’s own mainstay. Remember that
others can merely guide you, but serious practice is your own
Even if you have only a little intelligence,
let it be intelligence of high quality, which is better than a
great deal of intelligence, which you cannot use properly. The
techniques in Dhamma practice must be specifically used to
eradicate defilements and craving. Do not blindly follow the
Dhamma learned from books to the point where you forget about
your objective to fight against defilement and craving attack,
use wisdom to destroy them right there immediately. Do not allow
them to gain strength. In so doing you will be a real Dhamma
student. May whatever Noble Fruition you are capable of
attaining in this life be yours to know for yourself.
Methods of concentration development
Walking meditation (cankama)
Preparation for Cankama Walk
The path for cankama walk should be about 1
meter wide and 15 meters long. It should be smooth so that the
walker is not worried about stumbling while walking. To get
started, stand at one end of the path facing the other end; the
two palms are joined at the chest or forehead as a token of
reverence to the Lord Buddha. Then make the following
"I now intend to practice a cankama walk as a
tribute to the purity of the Lord Buddha, Dhamma and the Noble
Ones; also to the virtues of my parents, teachers and those who
have been kind to me. May I be able to develop mindfulness,
calmness and the ability to know and see the Truth clearly. May
the wholesomeness of my act inspire all beings to forgive one
another and be happy."
Then put your hands down, the right hand
grasping the back of the left in front of the body as when one
stands in a solemn manner. Keep the mind in a neutral mood. Do
not let it incline to any pleasant or unpleasant thought. Think,
"From this moment on I will set aside all other thoughts but the
intention to practice a cankama walk." Then follow these steps:
1. Mindfully breathe in slowly, thinking
Mindfully breathe out slowly, thinking "dho".
Mindfully breathe in slowly, thinking "Dham".
Mindfully breathe out slowly, thinking "mo".
Mindfully breathe in slowly, thinking "San".
Mindfully breathe out slowly, thinking "gho".
2. Do 1. 3-7 times or more to bring Buddho,
Dhamma, Sangho together into the mind.
3. Then do only the "Bud"-"dho" part and
start walking according to one of the following methods.
First Method of Cankama walk
Mindfully take a step, thinking, "Bud"; then
another, thinking "dho". Do this over and over as you walk along
the path. At any time your attention is not on your step, you
know that you have lost sati or mindfulness, and you must start
again until your mind is fixed firmly on every step. Do not walk
too fast or too slow. Walk at your regular speed.
This is a method of concentration development
in which the act of walking is used as the object of attention.
When you reach one end of the walking path, turn around by
always making a right turn, and walk back and forth.
Second Method of Cankama Walk
In this method, one uses breathing instead of
walking as the object of attention. Think "Bud" as you breathe
in, and "dho" as you breathe out. In this way, you concentrate
on your breath and parikamma word - "Bud"-"dho" – as a practice
of concentration. When you get tired of walking, simply stand
still, but continue fixing your mind on "Bud"-"dho" as before.
Third Method of Cankama Walk
In this method, one concentrates on a part of
one’s body. Pick any part that you feel is easy for you to
concentrate on. This body part will be used as the object of
attention, at which mindfulness and the "knowing" nature of the
mind will stay together.
For a beginner, first practice by imagining
the physical appearance of the body part: for example, its
color, texture and location. By doing this over and over again,
you can fix your mind on that part more quickly, either with or
without closing your eyes. When you gain enough skill for one
part, you can then move on to do the same for other parts.
Seeing all body parts as having the same basic characteristics
by this method provides a good foundation for wisdom or insight
development (vipassana). This method does not depend on walking
steps as the object of attention. Instead, it uses the name of
the body part – for example, "taco" meaning, "skin," "atthi"
meaning, "bone" – as the parikamma word.
Fourth Method of Cankama Walk
In this method, one concentrates on the
mental objects – crude or delicate, pleasant or unpleasant –
that arise in one’s mind. Just be mindful of the arising of
mental objects, but do not think about their source, because in
doing so you will intensify that feeling even more. Any mental
object has its cause. Therefore you must be mindful enough to
know and see clearly the cause of a mental object and watch how
it can expand.
The cause here means the inner cause that
already resides in the mind. There is fuel ready in the mind;
that is, craving for more sensual objects and sensual moods. The
mind has been craving for its food in terms of forms, sounds,
smells, tastes and tactile sensations for a long, long time –
for innumerable past lives. Similarly, in one’s present life it
craves for "hot" mental objects through the eyes, ears, nose,
tongue and body. This has been impressed profoundly in the mind
and serves as the inner cause of all mental objects. Forms,
sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations merely trigger the
inner cause. When one perceives anything from the senses, one’s
mind tends to hold onto the perception and think about it until
it is fastened in the mind.
The mental object is where the mind is.
Therefore when one concentrates on a mental object, one is
actually watching one’s mind. While watching it, one should be
aware when greed, anger, passion or delusion occur in the mind.
One must be mindful enough to spot any "invader" of the mind and
tone it down until it fades away. It is important, however, that
you not let the mind think about the source of the mental
object, which could be form, sound, smell, taste, touch or
jealousy, because the feeling will be more intensified and can
do more harm to the mind. The right way is to concentrate
exclusively on the mental object as it arises in the mind. Fix
your attention on it until you see clearly what it is really
like. Soon it will lose strength and die down. This is the
"inner war" or the confrontation between mindfulness and mental
objects. Whether you will win or lose depends on the strength of
At the end of a cankama walk, stand at one
end of the path facing the other end. Again, put the two palms
together to pay respect to the Lord Buddha as when you start,
"I have finished a cankama walk as a tribute to the purity of
the Lord Buddha, Dhamma and the Noble Ones. May this practice of
mine be a blessing to myself as well as my parents, my teachers
and all who have been kind to me. May heavenly beings, small and
large animals and those who dislike me also be blessed by this
Then walk away from the path mindfully to
continue concentration practice by sitting.
Preparation for Sitting
The seat for sitting practice should be neat
and clean so that one has no worry bout it while sitting. To
start, one pays respect to the Lord Buddha by repeating some
chants, either briefly or lengthily as one wishes. At the end of
the chants, bless oneself and other beings. For a layman, make a
commitment to observe the Five Moral Precepts. This is to assure
the purity of one’s mind during concentration practice. It is
means of removing worry about physical or verbal unwholesome
deeds in the past.
At this moment, one should be confident about
the purity of one’s precepts and forget about evil acts in the
past. Instead, one should recall one’s past wholesomeness, such
as giving, precept observance, thoughts of benevolence for
others, etc., to put the mind in a happy mood.
If one cannot formally make a resolution to a
monk to observe the Five Moral Precepts, one can make his own
commitment anywhere, because essentially the intent to
relinquish physical and verbal misconduct is what counts in
Commitment to Observe the Five Moral
One commits oneself to observe the Five Moral
Precepts by reciting the following Pali:
Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato
Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa
Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa
Buddham saranam gacchami
Dhammam saranam gacchami
Sangham saranam gacchami
Dutiyampi Buddham saranam gacchami
Dutiyampi Dhammam saranam gacchami
Dutiyampi Sangham saranam gacchami
Tatiyampi Buddham saranam gacchami
Tatiyampi Dhammam saranam gacchami
Tatiyampi Sangham saranam gacchami
Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
Kamesumicchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
Suramerayamajjapamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
Those who cannot recite the above Pali can
simply say the following:
1. I shall not kill any life.
2. I shall not steal.
3. I shall not commit adultery.
4. I shall not lie.
5. I shall not take alcohol or other intoxicants.
You must be true to yourself and your own
commitment, and this is the correct way to observe the precepts.
After that, say the following Pali three
Imani panca sikkhapadani samadiyami cetanaham silam vadami
Then bow to the ground three times to pay
respect to the Lord Buddha, Dhamma and the Noble Ones. For monks
and novices, make sure about the purity of your precepts and
vinaya. Do not let this point worry you while practicing
Now you are ready for the sitting. Remember
that samádhi sitting can come either before or after a cankama
walk. Or, if it is inconvenient to practice cankama walking, you
can practice concentration simply by sitting.
For men, put your right leg over the left as
you sit. For women, sit in the same way as men, or you can sit
with both legs folded to one side (a typical posture for a Thai
lady sitting on the floor). The important point is to choose a
comfortable sitting position. Now relax and join both palms in
front of your chest or forehead as a token of reverence to the
Lord Buddha, and make the following commitment:
"I now intend to practice samádhi sitting as
a tribute to the purity of the Lord Buddha, Dhamma and the Noble
Ones…etc." just as in a cankama walk.
Then put your hands on your lap, the right
hand on top of the left, both palms up. Keep the upper body
straight up. Be mindful inside. Do not let your mind wander
outwards, for it will invite sensual desires, resentment and ill
will, etc., into the mind, causing depression, frustration and
restlessness. Think instead, "At this moment, I shall stop
thinking about external things and keep my mind with the present
First Method of Samadhi Sitting
1. Mindfully breathe in slowly, thinking
Mindfully breathe out slowly, thinking "dho".
Mindfully breathe in slowly, thinking "Dham".
Mindfully breathe out slowly, thinking "mo".
Mindfully breathe in slowly, thinking "San".
Mindfully breathe out slowly, thinking "gho".
2. Do 1. 3-7 times or more to bring Buddho,
Dhamma, Sangho together into the mind.
3. Then do only the "Bud"-"dho" part. Breathe
normally. Fix your attention on the parikamma words and your
breath. Be mindful all the time. Do not let your attention slip
away. Remember this: breathe in thinking "Bud," breathe out
At any moment you do not breathe attentively
– for example, you think "Bud" ahead of an in-breath – you have
lost mindfulness. At any time you do not exhale together with "dho"
with full attention, your mindfulness has been disrupted.
Therefore you must fox your mind firmly on breathing with the
appropriate parikamma word. Repeat this until you become skilled
a skilled mediator can keep his mind on breathing and parikamma
words for a long time. This is a good method. One knows when one
loses mindfulness. It is difficult in the beginning, but will
get easier as one practices often. This is a means of
strengthening mindfulness and the "knowing" nature of the mind,
using breathing as the object of attention. A skilled mediator
can omit the parikamma words and keep mindful of breathing
alone. The mind trained in this way will experience more and
more tranquility, and mindfulness will get stronger and
Second Method of Samadhi Sitting
In this method the parikamma words "Bud"-"dho"
are omitted. Fix your mind on breathing alone. Know when
breathing is heavy and watch it until it gets softer. Know when
breathing is soft and watch it still until it gets even softer –
extremely soft. At this point one has attained ekaggatarammana,
one-pointed-ness of mind. The soft breath is a sign of a subtle
mind. When the mind reaches this stage, one may experience many
manifestations of the calm mind: for example, the body, the
limbs or the head may seem enlarged. If this happens don’t be
frightened. Keep on being mindful of your soft breath – nothing
else but the soft breath. In about 5 minutes, the sensation of
the enlarged body will disappear. In other cases, some
meditators may feel taller; some shorter; some spinning around;
some bending towards one side or another. Just be mindful of the
breath. Ignore various expressions of the mind. These arise and
will soon go away.
Sometimes your breath may be so soft that it
seems to disappear. Those who are afraid of dying will withdraw
from samádhi at this point. Actually, this is an indication that
the mind is fully concentrated. Don’t be afraid. Just keep on
watching the soft breath – nothing else – until finally you do
not breathe at all. Here is the point at which the body does not
seem to exist. There remains only the "knowing" nature of the
mind. Sometimes a little or a lot of brightness appears all
around even without the body this brightness reveals the true
nature of the "knowing" mind. The brightness and lightness of
mind at this moment will be the most miraculous experience in
one’s life. There is nothing in the world to compare. Such
tranquility lasts for about 10 minutes, and then breathing
resumes. The happiness and lightness of the body and mind that
one has experienced have no ordinary things to compare. The
tranquility is so great that those who do not have enough wisdom
will tend to long for it again. But those who have had enough
discernment training before will contemplate it with wisdom and
use it as a basis to develop mire and more wisdom. They do not
attach to the happiness of the tranquil mind in samádhi, but use
samádhi as a tool for more efficient wisdom development.
I would like to suggest one point to readers
who have practiced concentration with firm intent, hoping that
wisdom will occur in the tranquil mind. If you have never
developed discernment into various aspects of the Dhamma, even
though your concentration is developed to the absorbed state of
samádhi – Samapatti or meditative attainment – it merely results
in happiness of the body and mind. As concentration progresses,
some may develop supernormal powers (abhinna): for example, the
power to know past and future events, the ability to see things
at distance with "inner eyes" or to hear with "inner ears" from
afar, the power to do extraordinary things or to read peoples’
or even animals’ minds. Having gained such supernormal powers,
they may easily claim that they have become arahants.
In the Lord Buddha’s time, there were 30
monks who had practiced concentration until their minds reached
full tranquility. They experienced happiness of the body and
mind that lasted for several days, until they were certain that
they had demolished their defilements, craving and ignorance,
and become arahants. They then wanted to tell the Lord Buddha
about it. When the Lord knew about their coming, he sent Phra
Ananda to meet them at the entrance to tell them not to see the
Lord yet, but to remain in the cemetery first. Getting the
Lord’s message, the 30 monks entered the cemetery. At that time,
in the cemetery lay a naked body of a beautiful lady who had
just died. The dead body looked like a woman asleep. The monks
looked at it, first with curiosity, but then they were filled
with passion and sexual desire! At this point they realized with
embarrassment that they were not yet arahants, for their minds
still had passion, desire and ignorance. They then contemplated
what happened over and over again until they all became
enlightened right there in the cemetery.
You can see how tranquility in samádhi can
deceive you. In the Lord Buddha’s time, there were many cases
similar to the 30 monks. If it happened nowadays, the 30 monks
would have had no chance of correcting their mistake, and would
have been false arahants all their lives. Today there are no
fresh corpses lying in the cemetery for same thing to happen.
So, those who patiently practice concentration waiting for
wisdom to occur by itself from the tranquil mind should pause to
think a little. Was there any monk in the Lord Buddha’s time who
became an arahant by practicing concentration alone? The fact is
that all arahants in the past had first practiced contemplation
for the sake of wisdom development.
Nowadays some good teachers are still around.
They practice contemplation alternating with concentration.
After withdrawing from tranquility, they investigate things down
to the Truth of all things: that is, suffering, impermanence and
not-selfness. They do not wait for wisdom to occur by itself. So
you must realize the difference and practice accordingly.
Without a coconut seed it is impossible to grow a coconut tree
regardless of how well you have prepared the soil for it. One
gets the right tree only from the right seed.
Third Method of Samadhi Sitting
In this method, one fixes attention on a part
of the body. Choose any part that is easy to visualize. This
will be used as the site where mindfulness and the "knowing"
nature of the mind will rest. The breath and parikamma words
play only supporting roles. The focus is on the body part until
one sees that part clearly and closely with one’s mind. If one
is worried about breathing and parikamma words, the attention
will be distracted, and one cannot see the body part clearly.
The chosen part can be a scar. It can be in front or at the back
of your body. Or it can be any part at all that feels right to
focus on. At first think about its location, color and texture.
If you cannot see it clearly, that shows that your intent and
mindfulness are not firm enough. It is best to choose a small
part so that one can focus on only a small area, similar to when
one concentrates on a needle hole to thread a needle.
You first imagine the picture of the small
area of your body. Do it over and over until your mind can see
that part instantly and naturally. Now you can reflect on it in
any way you like: for example, seeing it rot, separating it from
the bone, etc. This is a good basis for contemplation to develop
wisdom. The method of fixing the mind on a body part is to give
the mind a place to rest. It is just like a bird that needs a
branch to rest on after flying. A body part is taken as a
resting place for a straying mind.
Fourth Method of Samadhi Sitting
In this method the mind concentrates on
mental objects arising in the mind, just as in the fourth method
of cankama walk, only this time it is done in a sitting
position, which is better because there is no movement of the
body. The mind can concentrate on mental objects much better. Be
aware when the mind is happy, suffering or in a neutral mood.
Know when passion and desire arise. Know the rise and fall of
feelings. Know which are causes and which are results. Notice
that all continue in cycles, from past to present to future.
They alternate in being causes and results and continue to roll
on endlessly. Some old feelings are mistaken for new ones
because of one’s unawareness of the on-going cycle. Thus one is
actually driven in the wheel of the world by these deluding
mental objects. Defilements, craving and ignorance are the
causes of the love and hatred that arise and persist in the
Therefore, developing mindfulness by using
mental objects as the object of attention is a good practice for
promoting discernment into the causality of all events. Knowing
how a mental object arises, one can find ways to cut off the
stream or the bridge of defilements or craving. If one does not
know the causes, one does not know how to prevent the results.
To get a sharp knife, one sharpens it. To eliminate heat, one
extinguishes the fire. So, to get rid of suffering, one must
demolish its causes.
The mind is where the mental object is, as
heat is with fire. So, if you want to see your mind, see it
through mental objects. Be mindful of an arising mental object.
Keep watching it long enough until its cause is revealed. Then
stop watching, and analyze it instead. Just as in a battle: When
a soldier is able to spot his enemy, he stops searching and
quickly fires at him. When a hunter finds game, he shoots it
right away. When one sees that something is on fire, one puts it
This is a method of discernment in trying to
kill defilement and desires causing craving for sensuality. It
allows wisdom to destroy the vicious cycle. This practice
enables one to discover the "headquarters" of defilements and
desires. Wisdom, conviction and effort can then be pooled to
bombard and destroy the headquarters completely. In boxing, a
boxer looks for a target to knock the other out. If he loses
this time, he will try to win next time. In Dhamma practice you
must have firm intent to develop wisdom; otherwise defilements
and desires will be perpetual winners.
To be a strong Dhamma student, you must aim
at the destruction of your chief enemy: the defilements. Direct
your practice inwardly towards mental objects, and plan to clean
all impurities out of your mind.