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Two Kinds of Thought
- Dvedhāvitakka Suta(MN#19)


Venerable Bhante Vimalaramsi

18-Feb-07
Joshua Tree Retreat Number Two

 

 
Key Meaning
BV: B. V. speaking,
MN: B. V. reading the sutta
{ } section of sutta omitted by B. V.
S: student speaking
~ speaking not clearly heard
TT: Talk Time mm:ss or h:mm:ss

 

BV: This particular sutta, if youíve listened to some of the talks on the web site, youíve probably heard it before. This is called: The Two Kinds of Thought. And this is a kind of an important sutta, because it brings up a lot of very interesting points, not only having to do with your meditation, but also having to live your life.

A while back we developed, a kind of systematic way of practicing the meditation. And we call it the six Rs, because each one of these starts with an R word. We Recognize when mind has gone away from the object of meditation. We Release that distraction. In other words, we let it be there by itself, but we donít give it any more attention. We Relax the tension and tightness caused in our head, and in our mind. We Re-smile. Now, youíve heard me talk a lot yesterday and during the interviews about smiling, and I want you to be serious about that; I want you to smile a lot. It imp roves your mindfulness so much that itís unbelievable. Itís a very good tool. After re-smiling, then you Return to your object of meditation and you Repeat staying with your object of meditation and repeat the whole thing over again when mind gets distracted.

Each part of the six Rs is, run by mindfulness. Now whatís the definition of mindfulness? I need a definition for mindfulness; what is it? Itís remembering to watch, how mindís attention moves from one thing to another. Thatís what mindfulness actually is. It doesnít have anything to do with concentration, or staying on one thing in the present moment. It is just about observing how mindís attention is moving from one thing to another, in the present moment. So, with each of these six Rs, recognizing takes remembering to watch. Releasing means remembering to let go. See how remembering is mixed up in all of this. Itís remembering to relax; Itís remembering to smile, coming back to your object of meditation. All of these different Rs, have, mindfulness in them. Itís like mindfulness is the gas, for the vehicle, to work. And if you donít have this gas, then, you kind of wind up floundering in your meditation, not quite knowing exactly what to do, but practicing the six Rs, is the way to remember how to do the meditation - how to do it exactly, how to do it precisely.

Now, when something arises, and it pulls your attention from one thing to another, it always happens in the same way. Your mind is on your object of meditation, and you lose your mindfulness. You lose the observation of staying with your object of meditation at that time. It gets weak for what ever reason. It gets distracted. Now your mind goes from your object of meditation to the distraction. Distraction: any one of the six sense doors. Doesnít matter what it is. It just pulls your attention away. Now the question that we need to answer is: how did that happen? Why it happened Ė we donít care. How did this process work? The Buddha taught us precisely and exactly how mindís attention goes from one thing to another. And Iím not going to go through the entire Dependent Origination tonight, but, there is a feeling that arises, at one of the sense doors. Now feeling isnít about emotion, necessarily. Feelings are pleasant, or painful, or neither painful nor pleasant. Thatís what feelings are. Right after feeling arises, craving arises. Craving is the: "I like it, I donít like it" mind. Craving always manifests as a slight tightness or tension in your mind, and in your body. Right after the craving arises, then the clinging arises. Whatís clinging? Give it a try.

S: ~

BV: You say itís definitely an attachment. Now what is an attachment?

S: Opposite of non attachment.

BV: (Laughs) "Opposite of non attachment." Yeah, but attachment is always: "I am that." Ok, "I am that feeling, I am these thoughts." Thatís what attachment always is. And when you hear about greed, hatred, and delusion, delusion is always taking the greed or the lust, and the hatred as being mine personally: "This is me, this is who I am." Both of those have the same definition. I get real big on definitions when ever I give a talk, because thereís a lot of words that weíre supposed to understand, but we donít always have a clear idea, like the word "mindfulness". Itís talked about a whole lot, but Iíve read countless numbers of books that say this is what mindfulness is and they go off on some story and they never tell you what it is. So thatís why I gave you that definition: itís remembering to observe how mindís attention moves from one thing to another. With that definition, all the other descriptions can start to make sense. So thatís why I do that with definitions.

Clinging is all of the stories, all of the concepts, all of your opinions, all of your ideas about why you like or dislike the feeling that arises, and this is where the real strong reinforcement, of: "I am that" comes from. It starts with the craving, but it gets built up real strong once thereís thoughts about the stories, the opinions, the ideas. After clinging arises, then there is your habitual tendency. Now in a lot of different teachers will give different definitions for the Pāli word "bhava". Some of them will give a definition of experience, being, existence, things like that. I had a real good talk with my teacher, who was an abhidhamma scholar for many years; a couple years ago he just passed away, U Silananda, he was a Burmese scholar. And we had a long discussion about the word: "bhava", and he was giving me all of these abhidhamma quotes about bhava, and I asked him if we could say that it is the habitual tendency. And he stopped for a little while, and he said: "Actually, thatís a good definition". So thatís the one Iím going to go with. And your habitual tendency is: "Whenever this feeling arises, I always act that way." When this feeling arises, the craving is there, the concepts, the opinions, the ideas about it, always makes this set of thoughts come up, or this set of feelings, or this desire to control the situation. Now, when we start talking about the psycho-physical process, of mind and body, we have a physical body. We have feeling. Thatís pleasant, unpleasant, neutral. There is perception. Perception is a part of the mind that looks at this and says: "This is a glass". Thatís that part of the mind, that names things. We have thoughts, and we have consciousness. Now what happens to us all the time, is a feeling arises, it doesnít matter whether itís pleasant or unpleasant, but most often when itís unpleasant, thatís when the thoughts really come up strong and want to control the feeling. But feelings are one thing, and thoughts are something else. You canít control the feelings with the thoughts. Every time you try to control the feeling with the thought, you get caught in your habitual tendency of thinking: "I am that feeling. I want it to be the way I want it to be when I want it that way", and I really suffer a lot, because Iím indulging in these desires to control the feeling. So, the more we can recognize that feelings are one thing and thoughts are something else, then we can let go of the thoughts about it, and see the feeling for what it is, and allow the feeling to be, without trying to control it, without trying to make it any different than it is. When a feeling arises, did you ask it to come up? Did you say: "Well, you know, I havenít been sad for a long time. I havenít been worried for a long time, I havenít been upset for a long time, itís time to have that feeling come up"? Nobodyís going to do that. It comes up because the conditions are right for it to arise. What ever arises in the present moment dictates what happens in the future. If you resist the present moment, if you fight with the present moment, if you try to control the present moment in any way, you can look forward to a lot of suffering and pain. Now this is where we have our choice. This is a volitional choice that we can make right at that moment. When this painful feeling comes up, and we let go of the thoughts about it, and we can allow the feeling to be or we can fight with it, and itís always our personal choice. When we allow the feeling to be, what are we doing at that moment? Weíre letting go of the identification with that feeling. The feeling is just the feeling. I didnít ask it to come up, itís up by itself. Itís all right for it to be there; it has to be all right, because thatís the truth. Thatís the dhamma. Now you can notice as you allow that feeling to be, that thereís some tension and tightness kind of wrapped around that feeling, and that tension and tightness is the craving. Now, letís take a look at the Four Noble Truths. We have suffering; yeah we have it, thatís for sure. Thereís a cause of suffering. Whatís the cause of suffering? Craving, and craving always manifests as tension and tightness; remember that. This is an important thing. Then you have the cessation of suffering. How do you have the cessation of suffering? By letting go of the craving. By letting go of that tension caused in your mind and in your body, letting it be. And you do this by following the Eightfold Path. So, we have a choice: whenever a feeling arises, we can take that feeling personally and wrestle with it and fight with it, and try to control it, and dislike it, or indulge in it, or not. Thatís our choice. As you become more familiar with the six Rs: recognize; release; relax Ė see, thatís letting go of that craving; re-smile; return; repeat, as you become more familiar with that process, you start to see more and more clearly how mindís attention moves from one thing to another. As you become more familiar with how mindís attention moves from one thing to another, you start recognizing it more quickly. You start letting it go more easily. In other words, youíre letting go of the hindrance, when it arises. So it doesnít catch you for as long. Thatís how you purify your mind. Every time you let go of craving, every time you relax that craving, your mind is pure at that time. Thereís no thoughts in your mind, thereís only this real, real, pure, alertness, and, a peaceful calm feeling, and you want to bring that mind, back to your object of meditation. Thatís the mind thatís free from the craving. Thatís how you purify your mind. Now old habitual habits, are going to stick around, for a period of time. How long have you been practicing this habit of this being this way? Itís not going to take that long to let it go and change that habit, but it going to take a while. As you start to learn how you cause yourself pain and suffering, as you start to see how you not only cause yourself pain and suffering, but you cause pain and suffering to other people around you then you start going: "Oh, I donít want to do that. Letís let that go." Now, with the instructions last night, I told you I want you to smile and I want you to laugh. "Oh, gee, this is a spiritual path, weíre not supposed to laugh." (Laughs) But the thing is, the fastest way to change your perspective, the fastest way to let go of the "I am that", is to laugh with your mind at how crazy it is for being attached. And as soon as you do that, youíre no longer attached. That attachment that you had of: "I am that" changes, very, very quickly from: "I am that" to "Itís only that". "Iím mad." Ė "Oh, itís only anger. I donít need to get angry at anything." Itís easy to let go of when you have that change in perspective. That is the first, part, of the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path, they call it right view, they call it right understanding, I have another definition of "sammā" which to me is a little bit, softer, and I call it "harmonious". When you think of "right", then the opposite always comes up in your mind whether you really like to think about it or not, and thereís wrong. So, everything is black and white. But when you use the word "harmonious", that takes it out of that realm and makes it a little bit more fluid. So I kind of prefer "harmonious perspective" instead of "right understanding" or "right view". When you have harmonious perspective, you have the perspective that everything is impersonal, and thereís happiness. Thereís a collectedness, thereís a kind of contentment with that kind of view, when ever you can remember to do this.

So, I got on my high horse. On the back of the six Rs, if you want, you can fold that up, and carry it in your pocket, as a reminder of: this is how to meditate; this is how to do it. So you can do that if you want, or not if you want, thatís up to you. I donít care as long as youíre smiling.

And some years back, I was teaching Loving-Kindness meditation, but at the time I was practicing mindfulness of breathing Ė Iíve done both meditations for a long period of time, and one of my students walked up to me and he said: "Youíre not smiling when you sit." And I really let people know: "I want you to smile, all the time, sit with a smile on your face." I wasnít practicing Loving-Kindness, so I didnít even consider that I should smile, and as soon as they said that, I went: "Yeah, thatís right. It doesnít matter which meditation it is. If youíre going to practice the six Rs, you got to practice them all the way, so you got to smile." And then I started watching very closely, what happened when there was a smile on your lips and a smile in your heart. Your awareness is so much uplifted, your agility of mind, and your mindfulness is so much sharper, itís easier to recognize when your mind is starting to go away, so you can catch it more quickly and let go more easily. So, I started saying: "Ok, weíll try that one and see how it goes", and, I really became impressed with the speed of the progress in the meditation, when ever you add a smile, with your practice. It really works. And you add your sense of humor to that, and what does that do? When you have a sense of humor, about how crazy your mind can be, youíre not crazy anymore, youíre in the present moment, and you havenít got that identification with this feeling, that can seem, overwhelming because itís so big, and makes you feel so bad, but when you laugh with that, all of a sudden you see this huge mountain thatís completely overwhelming is nothing but this little bump. The only reason it turned into the huge mountain, was because of your perspective, and when you laugh with this it changes your perspective, and all of a sudden, your mindfulness picks up, your alertness picks up, and you start to see more clearly how mind becomes serious about things, and when it becomes serious, That means, thereís an attachment there. Thereís the: "I am that", that is caught up in that.

(Sighs) Boy, I really get on my high horse sometimes, donít I? I havenít even started talking about the sutta tonight. (Laughs) Sorry. (Laughs)

Ok, this is: The Two Kinds of Thought.

 

MN: 1. THUS HAVE I HEARD. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthi in Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's Park. There he addressed the bhikkhus thus: "Bhikkhus."ó"Venerable sir," they replied. The Blessed One said this:

2. "Bhikkhus, before my enlightenment, while I was still only an unenlightened Bodhisatta, it occurred to me: 'Suppose that I divide my thoughts into two classes.' Then I set on one side thoughts of sensual desire, thoughts of ill will, and thoughts of cruelty, and I set on the other side thoughts of renunciation, thoughts of non-ill will, and thoughts of non-cruelty.

 

BV: What are thoughts of non-ill will?

S: Loving-Kindness.

BV: Hmm. What are thoughts of non-cruelty?

S: Compassion.

BV: Sheís already heard this talk probably twenty times. (Laughs)

Give me a definition of compassion.

S: ~

BV: Itís accepting that another person has pain. Allowing them the space to have that pain. You canít take anotherís pain away from them; their pain is their pain. As you allow them the space to have their pain, you love them unconditionally. Thatís compassion.

I just went to a talk where somebody was giving a definition of compassion of taking their pain away a little bit, and thatís the fastest way to make yourself sad. "Oh, you poor dear, I feel so sorry for you." Well, all Iím doing is making myself feel lousy, and Iím certainly not helping them out any. I used to go to the hospital a lot when I was in Asia. A lot of people had cancer and had different kinds of diseases where there was a lot of pain. Always before I went, when I was walking down the hall, I was preparing myself to walk into the room. And I did that by telling myself: "It doesnít matter what their pain is, itís ok for them to have that. I can be happy." And I would repeat that, as I was walking down the hallway, and I always walked in and I had smile on my face and: "Hey, howís it going?" And they would tell me things like: as soon as I walked into the room, it was like fresh air coming into the room. Because their pain is their pain, and itís ok. It has to be ok, because thatís the truth. And I was radiating Loving-Kindness. So thatís my definition of compassion, thereís probably a lot more to it than that, but thatís the way I found it to be most useful.

Ok-

 

MN:

3. "As I abided thus, diligent, ardent, and resolute, a thought of sensual desire arose in me. I understood thus: This thought of sensual desire has arisen in me. This leads to my own affliction, to others' affliction, and to the affliction of both; it obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nibbana.'

 

BV: When thereís sensual desire or any of the hindrances that arise in your mind, they will, cause pain in you, and can cause pain in other people around you, when youíre not practicing your mindfulness. Now the hindrances, as much as people donít like me saying this, are, your best teachers. I mean head and shoulders higher than any other kind of teaching that you could possibly learn, because the hindrances are showing you where your attachments are. Theyíre your best friends. Every hindrance has: "I am that" attached to it, so thereís a real strong identification with this hindrance or that one, and thereís a lot of craving involved with it: "I like this and I want to keep this; I love this feeling when it comes up, and I indulge in it that way", or when it comes up: "Oh, no I donít want that" and I try to push it away; I try to control it. But itís always: "I am that." Now when a hindrance arises, it is showing you exactly where your attachment is, and how attached you are, to that hindrance, for either the liking or disliking it. The whole part of being able to see how mindís attention moves from one thing to another to another, is a very important aspect of how, the process, of this mind and body actually works. The whole point of the meditation is to see this process as clearly as you possibly can. It always happens in the same way, thereís contact with one of the sense doors, the feeling arises, pleasant, unpleasant, neutral, craving arises, clinging arises, habitual tendency is there, I wonít go on to explain all of the Dependent Origination, but this is enough to give you the idea that you have to be able to see how that hindrance pulls your mind from your object of meditation where youíre peaceful and calm, and smiling and happy and very much at ease, to being, sad, anxious, worried, depressed, fearful, what ever the catch of the day happens to be. How did that happen? That is the key question that we need to look at in Buddhism. Over the years it seems that thereís been a bigger stress on why does something happen. And when I was in Burma, one of my teachers, he used to kind of laugh because all of the Westerners, they were always worried about why. And he said: "Itís a Western disease. Itís analyzing things. Itís trying to figure out why something happened. Who needs that?" When you let go of the why and start looking at the how, you start seeing it more and more as part of an impersonal process, just to be observed, rather than a personal process to try to control. So, itís a very necessary thing to have the hindrances arise. And they will always accommodate you when your mindfulness is a little bit weak, and itís not as sharp as it could be, and thereís all kinds of reasons for your mindfulness wavering in one way or another, but we donít care about why, we just care about how. So the more we can start to observe: "Howíd that happen? What happened first? What happened after that? What happened after that? What happened next?" As youíre able to see the process, you start becoming more and more familiar with how this process works. As you become more familiar with this, you start letting go, as you start recognizing this process more and more easily, more and more quickly, you start letting go of some of your habitual tendencies. You start letting go of the thoughts about. You start letting go of the craving. You start letting the feeling be. And as you become more and more familiar with that, you do that faster and faster. When you treat a hindrance in this way, youíre seeing it as an impersonal process. It doesnít have anything to fight with; it doesnít have anything to push back against, because Iím not there. Iím not trying to control it; Iím not trying to fight with it. Iím allowing this feeling to be there by itself, letting go of the thoughts and the cravings about that feeling. As you do that, that hindrance becomes weaker, and weaker, until finally, it fades away. When that happens, thereís a huge sense of relief. Itís like somebody just took this big bag of rocks off of your shoulders, and you didnít even know you were carrying it, feel really good. And then you feel joy. You feel really, really happy. And the joyful feeling, this kind of joyful feeling is different from other kinds of joyful feeling. This is called uplifting joy. And this joy Ė you feel very light in your mind. You feel very light in your body, almost like youíre floating. Itís like you could take a walk out in the desert and almost not leave any footprints. Thatís how light you feel. Now that will last for a period of time, and then when that fades away, you will feel more comfortable than youíve ever felt before. Youíll feel comfortable in your mind; youíll feel very comfortable in your body. This is what the Buddha called "sukha", happiness. Your mind becomes very tranquil, very much at ease. Youíve let go of this hindrance that kept on pulling your mindís attention away. Now your mindís attention just stays on the object of meditation, by itself. Itís no effort. This is what they call effortless effort. Your mind is very tranquil. Itís very easy to notice when a thought starts to come up, and you can let it go very quickly, relax, and then come back. What Iíve just described to you is the experience of the first jhāna. Now the thing with the word "jhāna" is, itís gotten such a bad rap in so many different areas, that the underst anding of the word "jhāna" isnít as clear as it could be. The word "jhāna" means a level of understanding, and you gain that understanding by letting go of the hindrance. You gain the understanding by seeing how this process works, and how it was part of an impersonal process. So, there was the letting go of this attachment, and that leads to this stage of understanding, and thereís a lot of insight into this. Your insight, is the thing that helps you develop your wisdom. The definition of wisdom is seeing the process of Dependent Origination, always. Every time the word wisdom is used in the scriptures, in the texts, itís talking about Dependent Origination, bar none, always that. Now when, say the sensual desire comes up, itís a pleasant feeling and your mind grabs onto that and says: "Hey, I like that. This is really something." And then thereís that craving that says: "I like it. I want it. I want it to stay the same all the time.", and then your thoughts and your opinions about why you like that feeling, and your habitual tendency. As you begin to become familiar with this, and it takes effort, to see how this practice actually does work, and the effort is this: - and we go back to the Eightfold Path - noticing when an unwholesome state arises; letting go of that unwholesome state and relaxing; bringing up a wholesome state, and smiling; and keeping that wholesome state going. So, sensual desire arises: "I like it. I want it to be this way. I want it never to change." But of course, everything does change. And itís real exciting and all of, whatever the cause of the sensual desire is. But your mind grabs on to it and says: "This is really great." Now why is this called a hindrance? Because you donít even know where you are any more. You donít know you have a body. You donít even know what your mind is doing. All you know is that you like it. And youíre indulging in all of these thoughts. And youíre identifying with all of these thoughts, and taking them personally. Thatís why itís a hindrance. So, this can cause affliction for yourself. It can cause a lot of pain, to arise, in yourself, because youíre taking it personally: "This is who I am." You can cause pain in other people, because your desire to have that sensual pleasure, you can wind up stepping on other peopleís toes to get that pleasure. You can cause pain for other people. You can cause pain for both of you.

"It obstructs wisdom," now remember the definition of wisdom is seeing Dependent Origination. Youíre not able to see how the process works, because youíre so involved in trying to obtain that sensual pleasure.

"It causes difficulties," I think that everybody can probably agree with that.

"And it leads away from Nibanna." Anything that leads away from wisdom, leads away from Nibanna.

MN:

When I considered: This leads to my own affliction,' it subsided in me; when I considered: This leads to others' affliction,' it subsided in me; when I considered: This leads to the affliction of both,' it subsided in me; when I considered: This obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nibbana,í it subsided in me. Whenever a thought of sensual desire arose in me, I abandoned it, removed it, did away with it.

 

BV: And the way you do that is always by practicing the six Rs.

Translating is really a difficult thing, because youíre going from one language to another, and thereís always different nuances in the way words are being used and that sort of thing. And when you hear in a translation, what this just said: "I abandoned it, removed it, did away with it", it gives the feeling, with this translation, of: you took it, you manhandled it, and you pushed it away, but thatís not the real feeling of it. Itís seeling it, allowing it to be, not getting involved with it, relaxing, smiling, come back, to your object of meditation. Thatís how you develop your wisdom. So we have to kind of be careful with all of our different translations.

I happened to be up in Seattle where they have some of the oldest texts, they just found in Afghanistan, and it was "Writings of a Monk", in his original language, whatever that happened to be, I donít remember the name of it. But I got invited to a translation party, with the scholars, to see what was being said. And it was a real good experience, and they were trying to be as clear and precise with the words as they could possibly be, and I really appreciated that. They came up with one definition of the word perception that I really didnít like what they were saying, and I suggested that change the definition of perception into naming instead of what they used Ė I donít remember right off. But it was a real interesting experience to be there and see how truly interested they are in trying to be as precise as possible, and a couple of them, werenít Buddhists. They didnít care. It was just an intellectual exercise. And this is where we have to be real careful with our translations, because there has to be the practical aspect of the translation. If youíre too literal, it can lead one direction, if youíre not literal enough, it can lead in another direction, so I suggested to some of them that it would be good if they started meditating, so that they could get more clear with the definitions that they were using. And there was a Mahayana monk, that were there, and they were real interested in the meditation.

As a matter of fact, we stopped for about fifteen minutes, and a nun wanted to talk to me about meditation, the way I was teaching it. And the whole time that weíd been in the room, she was like real nondescript, and I went out and I talked to her, she said that she practiced this form and that form of meditation, and what did I think? And I said: "Well. I donít know, but I do it according to the original suttas as much as I possibly can, and, we practice the six Rs, and I explained the six Rs to her. Now this was just a fifteen minute chit chat that we had. She walked back into the room and you could have turned all of the lights off. I mean, she was glowing. She was so happy that she finally ran across something that seemed to make sense, and she promised me that she was going to try it, so weíll see.

Anyway, this goes through repeating the same thing again with thoughts of ill will and thoughts of cruelty, and how they cause pain for others:

BV: Then, this is one of my favorite things in all of the texts. It says:

 

MN: 6. "Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of sensual desire, he has abandoned the thought of renunciation to cultivate the thought of sensual desire, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of sensual desire.

BV: Now whatís this talking about? Our old habitual tendencies, what do we think about? The more you think about something, the more your mind inclines to think about it. The more you indulge in thoughts of sensual desire, the more youíre going to have thoughts of sensual desire. The more you think about, having a pure mind and letting go of craving, the more your mind will tend towards doing that. What you think and ponder on, thatís the inclination of your mind.

I had a friend a few years ago, she was really an amazing person; she was a nurse, but she really, really, heavily indulged, in worry, and the: "What if?" Ė "What if this happens? What if that happens?" And she really indulged in it a lot. And the more she did it, the more she did it! And she was coming up, she really got into her imagination very heavily, about, worry about this, and worry about that, and she was an emotional wreck because thatís what was happening, she was worrying about something that didnít have to do with whatís happening right here, right now. "Well, what if this happens?" And "What is that happens?" And I kept on saying: "You know you really cause yourself an awful lot of pain. And what if it doesnít happen? Can we worry about that? What if there is no disaster? Oh, shucks! Letís worry about not having a disaster instead of having one!" And finally I got to her, and I started showing her that the more you think and ponder on these kind of problems, the more you tend to think about it, so start developing a mind, that has Loving-Kindness in it. A mind that, as you think more and more kind and loving thoughts, your mind will tend towards that. You want to affect the world around you in a positive way? Change what you think about. What you think and ponder on, thatís the inclination of your mind. If you spend time thinking and pondering on thoughts of sensual desire, youíre going to have a lot of thoughts of sensual desire. Youíre going to start indulging in thoughts of ill will towards other people, youíre going to have a lot of thoughts of ill will. But itís not only towards other people. A lot of people, and I want to say a lot of people, they indulge in self critical thinking. Now we get into the Eightfold Path again. And we have the one part of the Eightfold Path that says right speech, and Iíve always not liked that definition, so Iíve changed it, what the heck? And I call it: "harmonious communication." Now, when you have harmonious communication, that means communication with yourself as well as with everybody else around you. Who do you spend the most time with? Who are you most critical of? Who needs the most love? Who needs more understanding? More openness? More kindness? We need to practice it for ourselves before we can give it away. If you donít have it, you canít give it. Thatís why this retreat is an important thing; Iím telling you I want you to practice Loving-Kindness. Bring that feeling of Loving-Kindness up, radiate that feeling, but make a wish, for your own happiness, for the first ten minutes of every sitting. And you do that, when you make the wish, you want to feel the wish. You make a wish, say your mind is very active. Ok, you make a wish, for a peaceful and calm mind. Now feel what itís like to be peaceful and calm. Take that feeling, put it in your heart, surround yourself with it. Radiate that feeling to yourself. If youíre being very judgmental, on yourself, youíre very cruel to yourself, then, itís time to give yourself a lot of love, and kindness. If your mind is very scattered, then feel what itís like to have a mind thatís very centered. See, thatís the way you use the wish. You have to feel that wish before you can give it to anyone, including yourself. That takes it out of the realm of wishful thinking, into the realm of reality. And the more you can practice, sending loving and kind thoughts to your spiritual friend, [the] more you can give them, that love, and that kindness. You canít give something you donít have. Wish we could, but, it doesnít work that way. So we have to have that feeling, before we can give that feeling away. And when we give it away, weíre helping that other person, not just a little bit, and weíre helping our self at the same time. And then again, this is where the smile comes in, because itís real easy to send that loving-kind feeling, when youíre smiling to your spiritual friend in your mind, in your eyes, with your mouth, in your heart. The more you can radiate that kind feeling, I donít care what youíre doing, whether itís with, chopping up vegetables, cleaning out the toilet, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, eating your food, walking from here to there, it doesnít matter, what youíre doing, use your mindfulness. Remember to observe what your mind is doing in the present moment, and, to stay with your object of meditation as much as you can. Thatís one of the reasons I want you to smile, because it helps remind you, more easily. So, Iím a sneaky monk, I canít help it. I want you to be happy. I really want you to be happy. And Iím trying to suggest ways for you to practice so you can be. And as you become more happy in yourself, everybody else around you starts to feel that happiness. I mean thatís why you work here, because youíre around a wonderful person that has that. Itís worth it being here. She has a very clear mind. You want some? She gives it away all the time, (Laughs)

See, one of the things about Buddhism, that is not as clearly understood as it could be is that meditation is not just about sitting. Thereís three different aspects to meditation.

The Buddha said the first part is practicing your generosity. Thatís part of meditation. To give your happy feelings away. Give your smile away. Get in the habit of giving as much as you possibly can. Now thereís three ways of giving. You give with your speech, you give with your physical actions, you give with your mind. The more you can practice giving in that way, the more youíll affect the world around you in a positive way.

The second part of the meditation is, taking and keeping your precepts. Donít break your precepts. That leads to a mind that is more alert to what youíre going to do before you do it. And then you make the conscious decision: "No, I donít want to do that, I donít want to say that, because that can cause harm." And that leads to a very calm mind. That leads to a very accepting mind. That leads to a mind that is ready to do the sitting. What is the cause of the hindrances arising? Breaking the precepts. And weíve all broken all of the precepts, from time immemorial, so theyíre going to come up at different times, depends on the, condition. How we handle the hindrances is very important. As we let go of the unharmonious communication with ourself, and develop the harmonious communication, we are able to give that harmony to the world around us. Thatís the way it works.

So, whatever a monk frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of mind. If you want to indulge in critical mind, if you want to indulge in angry mind: "That person is stupid even for thinking that or saying that!" Then you can look forward to that, arising over and over again. You can look forward to having more and more anger and dissatisfaction and the need to quote "vent", which means: "Taking that anger and throwing it out at the universe, because I donít want it inside anymore." But it doesnít get rid of the problem. If you donít want to live a life where you have to vent, then you have to start becoming more aware of how mindís attention moves, and you have to start becoming more aware of your frequently thought and pondered upon ideas, and thoughts, and your inclinations of mind. "Well, Iíve been acting this way for the last fifty years, I donít see a reason to stop." Does it lead to your happiness and the happiness of every one around you, or not? Thatís what dictates whether we should practice that or not. And if it doesnít, than itís time to change. "Oh, geez, change? You mean I have to change, I canít stay the same all the time?" Yeah, if you want to be happy. Yeah. Change from your old habits; develop new habits. Change from having anger arise because somebody says or does something that you donít like, or worry, or anxiety, or frustration, whatever it happens to be, change. Start focusing on Loving-Kindness. Start focusing on an uplifted mind. Smile more. That helps to overcome the problem. The Buddha was probably the greatest problem solver, ever, except, for when there was another Buddha before him, I canít say ever. And, his solution was very simple, and so simple that when we run across the answer today, we go: "No! No, it canít be that! Thatís too easy!" But it is that simple. See the trick is, following the directions that the Buddha gave as closely as you possibly can. That is the trick. And the instructions, like the instructions of mindfulness of breathing, theyíre only four sentences. But if you donít follow these four sentences, theyíre not going to lead to the same end result. The first two sentences are about breathing in long and breathing out long, and short. And the key words for that is you understand what youíre doing. You understand when you breathe in long and out long, when you breathe in short and out short. It doesnít say nostril tip; it doesnít say upper lip; it doesnít say abdomen; it doesnít say follow the breath all the way in and all the way out. It just says that you understand that youíre breathing. Then it says that you train. Ok, now weíre getting right down to the nitty gritty. You train, by experiencing the entire body. On the in-breath, and experience the entire body on the out-breath. It doesnít say breath body; it says body. Breath body is commentary. Body is sutta. And then the last part of the instructions are very, very clear. You train thus: on the in-breath, relax. On the out-breath, relax. Says tranquilize your bodily formation. On the in-breath, and tranquilize your bodily formation on the out-breath. You do that. You donít add anything, you donít subtract anything. You will get good results very quickly. Donít follow what a commentary says if it doesnít tell you to do that exactly. There are commentaries that are quite good. There are commentaries that are very misleading. You have to be careful with that. Always check what a commentary says against, the original teaching. And even some of the original teachings, thereís problems.

See about, it was roughly two hundred and thirty-five years after the Buddha died, there was an awful lot of brahmins, that started taking on the robes, and they were giving their teaching and saying that it was the Buddhaís teaching, so they called a Buddhist council. And they were asking these monks detailed questions about what the Buddha taught, and if they couldnít answer about the Four Noble Truths, and Dependent Origination and things like that, then they were disrobed. But they had influenced an awful lot of the teaching, and put in a lot of things that were actually kind of sexist, about the nuns, and lay women, and things like that, that are still in our texts today. Now thereís rules for the nuns. They say if youíre going to be a nun, then you have to follow these rules, and the first rule is: if a nun has been a nun for a hundred years, and somebody becomes a monk that very day, the nun has to bow to the monk. Aaa, lets get away from that kind of stuff. It all has to do with respect. Itís learning how, to, live together. The nuns and the monks, they have different quarters, theyíve sectioned off, and thatís ok. But thereís still interaction between the monks and the nuns, where every new and full moon the monks are supposed to give Dhamma talks, but sometimes the nuns can come to the monks and give Dhamma talks. So thereís this, and that never, by reading some of the rules, that never would actually come in to being, if we followed those rules without using our common sense and good judgment. One of the suttas, it says that, women could never run a government. And how many women are there running governments now? You know. Well, thatís a flat out, falsehood, because itís happening. That says that that was a brahmin that wrote that, because they were very much against women. They wanted the women to be in the house, and be a slave. They couldnít go out of the house by themselves. There was all kinds of things like that, during the time of the Buddha, and the Buddha was very big on, letting go of, those kind of, restrictions. Thatís why he allowed women to become bhikkhunis. He was saying that women can get the same attainment, as men can, see? And that was, so, politically incorrect at that time, that it was very remarkable.

Anyway.

7. "Just as in the last month of the rainy season, in the autumn, when the crops thicken, a cowherd would guard his cows by constantly tapping and poking them on this side and that with a stick to check and curb them. Why is that? Because he sees that he could be flogged, imprisoned, fined, or blamed [if he let them stray into the crops]. So too I saw in unwholesome states danger, degradation, and defilement, and in wholesome states the blessing of renunciation, the aspect of cleansing.

8. "As I abided thus, diligent, ardent, and resolute, a thought of renunciation arose in me. I understood thus: 'This thought of renunciation has arisen in me. This does not lead to my own affliction, or to others' affliction, or to the affliction of both; it aids wisdom, does not cause difficulties, and leads to Nibbana. If I think and ponder upon this thought even for a night, even for a day, even for a night and day, I see nothing to fear from it. But with excessive thinking and pondering I might tire my body, and when the body is tired, the mind becomes disturbed, and when the mind is disturbed, it is far from concentration.' So I steadied my mind internally, quieted it, brought it to singleness, and concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind should not be disturbed.

BV: Now, I know that, I was in Asia for twelve years, I know that thereís a big push for monks to only get four hours sleep a night, and I did that, I was at Mahasi Center for eight months, and I got there, we went to bed at eleven oíclock, we got up at three oíclock, started meditating. And then it got to be rains retreat, and Iíd been there for about five months, and the teacher said, one day when I went in to the interview: "How much sleep you taking?" And I said: "Four hours." He said: "Why you sleeping so much?" So I said: "Ok." So I cut it in half, for three months. Lousy meditation. Took a lot of energy, to stay awake that long, and I was eating huge quantities of food and losing weight, because it took so much energy. Now, when I got done, it was when there was a lot of social unrest in Burma in nineteen-eighty-eight. The government asked all of the foreign monks to leave the country, so we had to leave, or I would have kept going. But I got back into Thailand, and I went to Malaysia, and I wound up sleeping huge quantities of time to catch up, in the amount of sleep, that I really needed. Now with this retreat, I say, go to bed at ten oíclock, get up at five oíclock. Thatís seven hours sleep right there. Iím being fairly lenient. And then after lunch, I say take another hour of sleep, so youíre going to get eight hours of sleep. Why? Because your meditation is better that way. The idea that you can force yourself to take less sleepÖ A lot of people, they can force that to happen for a long period of time, ten or fifteen years, and then they go crazy for a period of time. And then they go into the hospital and they give them all kinds of drugs, and they wind up sleeping, like twenty hours a day, until they catch up, and then theyíre fine, theyíre not crazy anymore. You have to take the right amount of sleep, You donít over push it. Eight hours is fine. Even for monks, eight hours is fine. I have this one friend in, Northern California that, heís been practicing going to bed at midnight, and getting up at two oíclock for years and years and years, and heís oh, eighty-five now I think? And he does it. And he also takes, naps. Takes a nap in the morning, takes a nap after lunch, takes a nap in the evening, but he only gets two hours sleep! (Laughter) (pause) So, the whole point of this is, learning to recognize when you have unwholesome states in your mind, not only while youíre sitting, but while youíre living. And what do you do with the unwholesome states when they arise? Thatís where your mindfulness has to be able to be clear enough, to be able to recognize thereís a hindrance there. Thereís sadness, thereís worry, thereís anxiety, thereís fear, thereís depression, thereís frustration, thereís anger. You have to be alert enough, to see how that process works, so you stop identifying with it. You stop getting caught by your habitual tendencies. Somebody calls me on the phone and they ask me a dumb question and I yell at them? And tell them theyíre stupid? No. Thatís just an old habit. Thatís just an old tendency that youíre not being aware of, and you need to practice your six Rs, right then, right there. Youíre causing harm to yourself; youíre causing harm to other people, by showing anger, by giving that anger away. Youíre not creating a world that has peace in it. Youíre creating a world that has, a lot of adversity in it. And we have to clean up, our act here on this planet. And when we start, acting this way, by seeing what we think and ponder on, thatís the inclination of our mind, and we start recognizing it and letting it go, and relaxing, and changing what we think and ponder on, then we start affecting the world around us in a positive way. So thatís what this whole sutta is actually about, and this is telling us how we should use our mindfulness. Now when you have crops in the field, you have to take careful attention to the cows, so they wonít eat the crops, and you wonít get blamed, and have all problems. But, it says:

12. "Just as in the last month of the hot season, when all the crops have been brought inside the villages, a cowherd would guard his cows while staying at the root of a tree or out in the open, since he needs only to be mindful that the cows are there; so too, there was need for me only to be mindful that those states were there.

BV: As you continue developing, and thinking and pondering on wholesome things, then your mindfulness doesnít need to be as sharp. See, the whole thing with learning how to smile, and learning how to laugh, is to keep that balance of mind. When your mind starts to get out of balance, your alertness, you can really see it, very quickly, and come back into the balance, when you practice the six Rs. Thatís what the whole message that the Buddhaís giving us. And, this sutta goes on and it describes about how you experience the jhānas. And Iíve already gone into that, how you get into the jhānas by letting go of the hindrances, and itís not just one time. Hindrances have a real habit of coming up over and over again. You got all kind of hindrances that will arise. But every time we do as you see them, allow them to be, relax, smile, come back to your object of meditation, it gets weaker and weaker, and this is how you go through the jhānas. Now I already described what happens when you do that the first time, letting go of the hindrance, then you have this release, and joy and happiness, tranquility, steadiness of mind. Eventually, your mindfulness is going to waver, itís going to get weak, and when that happens, guess what? You get another friend to come visit. But now youíre starting to understand how the process works, so you donít get so caught up in the hindrance itself. You start to say: "Ok, we have this here, and this is how this is working, and I see that more and more clearly." So you let go until finally, it fades away and youíll go into the next jhāna. The hindrances are the necessary part of your practice, because they help you to purify your mind, if you treat them in the right way. As you allow them to be and relax, and not get involved with them, you are purifying your mind, youíre changing your old habitual tendencies, from: "Every time this happens I always act that way." Well, now you say: "Every time this happens, thereís a new way to act." You donít have to, get involved. You donít have to try to control the situation. You can give more space. You can allow things to be, much more easily, when you start letting go of the hindrances, and every time you let go of a hindrance, you go deeper into your practice, itís great stuff. Your understanding becomes so much more clear. See, weíre all a bunch of slow learners. We really are. We have to see the same thing over and over and over and over and over again, before we finally start to grasp: "Oh, this is whatís happening." and thatís where your mindfulness kicks in, remembering to observe, how this happens.

Iíve been talking for a long time, ho hum, just like always. (Laughs) Anybody have any questions? Comments? Statements?

S: ~?

BV: Yes, Itís like you know that youíre breathing. And you know when the breath is long and when itís short, but you donít have to focus on it. And, when youíre doing the breathing meditation, you use the breath as the reminder to relax the tension and tightness. Thereís always tension and tightness in your head. See, a lot of people in this country, when you start talking about relax the body, they think your body is from your neck down, and actually, itís from the top of your head, down. And the tightness that happens, is in the head.

When people come and practice with me, I generally encourage them not to read anything for a year, just listen to the Dhamma talks, because Iím reading the suttas to you, but Iím explaining what the suttas mean, and youíll start to recognize: "Oh, Iíve had that experience, and it says that here." And after you do that for awhile, then you pick up the suttas, and you understand the suttas very easily. So, continually referencing the body, even in the Kāyagatāsati Sutta, the first part of the instructions on the body is the breath. And those exactly the same instructions. You relax on the in-breath and relax on the out-breath. Itís, you notice your entire body, and the way you notice your entire body, is if you see tension and tightness, you have a shoulder thatís, pulled up. Or you have, tightness in your back, or you have tension in your knees, or you have a cramp starting to come, whatever, and relax that, but also itís the relaxing of the tension and tightness in the head. Thatís the subtle tightness, that almost everyone misses. But you donít necessarily really understand until youíre doing the meditation. And when you do the meditation, then the suttas, they just start opening up in ways that youíve never experienced before, and it gets to be really, really fun. So, my suggestion is, do the practice for awhile first, Do a fairly long retreat if you have the time, so that you can really start understanding what mind is doing and how it works, and using the six Rs with it and that sort of thing, and then come back to the sutta, but in this particular book(MN), donít start with sutta number one. Itís the longest, most complicated sutta, in the entire book. But the way that I used to use the book, was I would just open it up to a page and go: "Oh, this looks interesting, ok, letís see what it says about this." And I would just go kind of ransom: "Oh, this looks like it would be a fun sutta to read now." And youíd be surprised how the questions you had, all of a sudden, get answered, because you just randomly: "Oh, well, letís try this one. Oh, wow, Iíve been wondering that for a long time." And it really gets to be kind of fun.

But we have to be patient. Every time your mind gets pulled to that, sensation, let go of the thoughts about it, relax, allow that sensation to be there by itself, relax, come back to your object of meditation. Eventually one of two things will happen. Either that sensation will go away or it wonít. If it goes away, then you just continue on with your practice. If it doesnít go away, your mind will have developed equanimity, thatís so strong, that the sensation doesnít pull your attention to it anymore. So, the thing that I want to stress is, if you have that sensation arise every time you sit, and you sit in exactly the same way, change your posture a little bit. It doesnít mean you have to uncross your legs, or maybe you want to uncross one leg or both legs, or however youÖBut try changing your posture a little bit to see whether that sensation still comes up. If it does, and as soon as you get up from your meditation, you donít notice it anymore, that is a meditation pain, and thatís helping you to gain your balance. Otherwise, donít hurt your body, from forcing that, sensation to arise. I learned that when I was in Burma. The teacher saidÖ I kept on coming to him and heíd say; "Well, why donít you sit longer?" And Iím sitting three hours, and he said: "Sit longer." And I sit longer, and I sit four hours, and he said : "Sit longer." And before long, I was sitting seven or eight hours, and I was forcing it, and I was sitting with my legs very tight, and I developed blood clots in my legs. Why do I sit on a chair instead of sit on the floor and give a Dhamma talk? Because I have blood clots Ė my legs go to sleep. I donít recommend doing that. Sit in a way that is comfortable, and the circulation is good, and always, when you get done with your sitting, you should walk, get your circulation moving. Donít hurt your body by doing this.

Another quick story, the whole time I was in Burma, and before, which was about fifteen years of practice before I went to Burma, they, told me over and over again that the best meditation object that you can have is pain. So when I went there and I finally got so that I had real strong equanimity to the pain, I couldnít make the pain arise anymore, and I actually went to the teacher and complained because I didnít get any pain, and I was trying to sit in all kinds of ways that would definitely cause pain to arise, but it wouldnít come up! (Laughs)

Yeah?

S: I have a question Ö. when you talk about while you were Ö??

BV: Well, itís short in regard to the depth, of the breath, when you take a real deep breath. Now thereís times that you can be breathing and itís very shallow, very fast, and itís not particularly deep, and other times, you take a real deep breath, itís just knowing when you take a long breath and short, that way. When the breath is course and when itís fine, when itís fast and when itís slow. Itís noticing those kind of things about the breath, thatís what itís really talking about. Ok? Anything else? Is that all? (Laughs)

Ok, letís share some merit then.

 

May suffering ones, be suffering free

And the fear struck, fearless be

May the grieving shed all grief

And may all beings find relief.

 

May all beings share this merit that we have thus acquired

For the acquisition of all kinds of happiness.

 

May beings inhabiting space and earth

Devas and nagas of mighty power

Share this merit of ours.

 

May they long protect the Buddha's dispensation.

 

Sadhu . . . Sadhu . . . Sadhu . . .

 

 

Remainder of sutta:

 

Source : http://dhammasukha.org
 

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