Chapter 07: How To Read Your Mind
All of you, laymen and laywomen, have come to ordain, study and practice the Dhamma. If you mind is very skillful (mahakusala), you can start a new life. Throw out your old learning and start to learn life afresh. Start a new life in the Wat, through learning, chanting, reflecting carefully on the four necessities of life. It’s new knowledge, you have to build it up in your mind, and mold your life into one that is cheerful in the Dhamma and Vinaya.
The meditation taught during ordination ceremonies is called the tacapancakammatthana. It is the practice of “standing” five times. It isn’t necessary for me to teach a lot of scripture for you to practice and meditation because I don’t want you to know it and I don’t want you to look at books. Just practice diligently, and let the new knowledge arise. Your mind will be clear and spotless. Let this mind arise, and you can answer about the five aggregates (khandhas), mentality (nama) and corporeality (rupa), the twelve sense bases, the twenty two faculties, and the eighteen elements. This is the important point to know in our work. The practice isn’t complicated, just be clear in the “rising” and “falling”, establish a good rhythm, and that is enough. You can practice. “Right step”, “Left step”—that’s enough. How are you waling, how is your mind observing?
The teacher will ask you whether the “rising” and “falling” are one and the same thing or different. If they are different, why so? The meditator can answer this easily, he doesn’t have to open a book to find the answer. You must take the practice as your standard. No need to ask about staring at Kasina objects or contemplation of loathsomeness. Don’t bother. These things will naturally arise in this kind of practice. That is why we say “eat little, speak little, don’t read books.” Cut off your worries and cares. You don’t have to worry about your house, you don’t have to worry about the Wat. Cut off the worries and devote yourself to the practice. This is the sure way.
The sense bases, faculties, elements, five khandhas and body and mind: where do they arise? What are they like? The sense bases make contact: how does a sense impression arise? Can you answer? “Rising”, “falling”—are they the same or not? “Right step,” “left step”—are they the same? Namarupaparicchedanana—if you cannot distinguish body and mind how can you progress? Do you know? You can’t answer because you can’t yet do it. You don’t yet really know. If you really knew you could answer spontaneously. You wouldn’t have to think, it would just flow out of you like snake eggs. “Oh, it’s like that.” When the light of Dhamma wisdom arises in you, the answers automatically follow.
In regard to “rising” and “falling”: if you haven’t yet practiced you may do the “falling” before the “rising”, but how can that be? How can you breathe out before you breathe in? What can come out if nothing has gone in? The breath has to come in first before it can go out. Just this is wrong already. If you don’t practice properly how can you establish right mindfulness and thinking? What is oxygen? Do you know about breathing through your solar plexus? You don’t. When you sleep, do you drop off to sleep on the “rising” and “falling”? You don’t know, you don’t understand. You can’t even do this. If you don’t pass the kindergarten level, how can you progress to the primary school level? How can you get the higher knowledge when you haven’t got the lower knowledge?
Namarupaparicchedanana is the ability to distinguish clearly between body and mind. As soon as a sound arises, “sound, sound.” What are the sound and the ear? What does the sound tell us? What does it means? You must be able to answer this. This is the significance of Dhamma practice. “Oh, right step, left step”—why? Standing five times, she hands clasped behind the back: how did the Buddha teach? Stand erect, firmly established, lungs functioning easily, breathe easy. If you hands are clasped in front it interferes with your breathing, your lungs can’t expand so freely. Your breath won’t be smooth.
I have practiced meditation for 35 years now. I’ve been through it all: developing mindfulness of the breathing for 20 years, then the ability to astral travel (monomayiddhi) for another ten years. I’ve stared at kasina objects, done the Dharmakaya meditation. You have to be able to do it. If you haven’t done it yourself how can you teach others? Meditators should take note of this. You have to teach yourself first. You have to have walked meditation first. Can you do it? Establish your mindfulness, noting the standing posture, “standing, standing” five times. What does it mean? When monks ordain, they recite the five parts of the body: kesa-hair of the head, loma-hair of the body, nakha-nails, danta-teeth, taco-skin, then in reverse order five times. You must know how the body is, from the top of the head down and from the tips of the toes up. This is how the Buddha taught. Note it while standing, note it until you are skilled in it, skilled at creating an image of the body, and you can see clearly whether it is beautiful or not, whether it is good or not. It will be clear in your mind: paccattam veditabbo vinnuhi: the wise will know for themselves.
Apart from that you must see other people, “seeing, seeing.” Meditators, from what I’ve observed and assessed, do not note other people. They just spend their time chatting, when people approach them they don’t really know what they’ve come for. This is not good enough. Nana, wisdom does not rise. You don’t know why they have come: “Oh, this person who is approaching, what is his hair like, what are his feet like? What is his face like? What is his character like?” We can know these things clearly in ourselves, paccattam. Other people can’t tell us, you can’t buy this knowledge in the market, it isn’t in the books, it is a technique of practice that appears to the person who develops mental observation and follows all activities with mindfulness. As people approach us we can know what they have come for, what their character is like and how it needs to be corrected, what teaching we should give them, how it should summarized. This is of great value to visitors: they go back safety and with happiness in their hearts, because we have scratched them in the right place. That is why so many people come to see me.
If people who practice the Dhamma do not observe their feelings and leave them flow as they will, is this good enough? They won’t know the truth about impermanence, suffering and not self. You don’t have to go into big explanations of the theory, just let the truth arise within you, and then you can answer whether the mind that observes the rising is the same as the mind that observes the falling: “rising, falling,” and “knowing”—are they the same? Are the mind that thinks and the mind that knows the same? Are thinking and awareness the same? You must be able to answer this much. “Oh, I can’t figure it out, I can’t tell.” In one mind there are three kinds of mindfulness: there is initial mindfulness, middle mindfulness and end mindfulness. Whenever they all arise the thinking mind and the knowing mind will immediately separate. You say you can’t figure it out. Knowing has to be in the present moment. In the present moment we don’t know ourselves, we only know ourselves in the past because we’re thinking. This is different already.
But why is it that meditators can’t answer these questions? They go to the books and answer in accordance with them: “Asubha is like this, looking at kasina is like that.” That’s not the way, you have to be able to answer: “Thinking” at the solar plexus. This is the beginning. No-one’s practiced this. As far as I can assess no-one’s practiced it. If we establish mindfulness properly and clear comprehension, noting why it is that we think, (we will see that) thinking becomes the past. Do you know that? Why does thinking mean the past? Because we have already learned it, it’s gone already, it’s the past, but we don’t remember it. Thus it is said the past is called thinking, the present is called knowing. Do you know yourself? You don’t know. So you must observe, “knowing.” Even with this you answer differently, it’s a different mind. They are different minds, different mental streams, different experiences. So why do you take only one? Meditators still haven’t got it. They don’t experience the present moment in walking meditation, in noting the “rising,” in noting the “falling.” It has to rise first, how can it fall first? Do you breathe out first? Is it possible? Try it out for yourself, can you breathe out before you breathe in? If anyone can do it I’ll be in awe of them. You have to breathe in first before you breathe out. If it doesn’t come in, what’s going to come out? If you don’t eat, if you fast for seven or eight days, will any faeces come out? This is how it is. This is the why and wherefore of it.
Those who are interested, please listen. Be able to practice in every moment. For example, when “standing,” really stand. Get a mental image of your body, seeing the face and physical characteristics. It’s impermanent, suffering and not self. “Oh, my body is old already.” Yes, it’s changing. It will die. It shows its impermanence. It changes according to conditions. This you must see for yourself, you won’t find it in the books. Can you do it? Assess yourself, “standing” five times. If you can do it, whenever you see someone coming toward you, you will be able to predict immediately whether it is an important person, a plebeian or a dignitary. If he dresses shabbily you may think he’s a poor man, but maybe he’s not. Sometimes people who dress like this are from higher classes. Sometimes you see someone coming dressed really snappily, wearing shirt and tie, carrying a “James Bond” briefcase, he looks like a rich man. You think rich people have to be received well, so you put out water for him, only to find out that in fact he’s a trickster, coming to take away your money. Do you know this? No you don’t you still can’t do it. Can you do it yet? All of you meditators have stayed here for a long time already: “thinking” is in the past, “knowing” is the present; noting “sound” when a loud sound occurs and passes away. How do you note it? What word do you use to describe it? A sound has already passed, ho do you note it? Is it the past or the present, do you know?
Even this much is not yet clear in your mind. After one Rains Retreat, can you tell the difference between the past, the present and the future? Some places, don’t forget, take seven days and seven nights. Then you pass the kindergarten level, seven days and seven nights of consistent noting, “rising” and “falling”. What is it like? Sound is past, it is impermanent, unsatisfactory and not self (aniccam dukkham anatta). Is it the past or the future? Sounds of birds calling, a sound of a gun— “blam!” and then disappearing—how do you note it? Would you call it the past of the present, do you know? You’ve observed it, you must surely know. Can we note the sound in time? Someone’s abusing us, but we establish mindfulness, “sound, sound.” “Oh, these words of abuse will soon become the past, they will pass away, all that’s left is the present. What is the present? It is the mind which is aware, which is “recording” events. There is contact with the mind, that is the present. The words of abuse have disappeared, they are past already. Now is the present, we must observe it in time. “Knowing” is the present, can you say that?
Wise listeners, please pay attention. Just practice this much, you don’t have to do a lot. “Right step” “left step,” keep your mind in the present. “Rising,” “falling”—keep it in the present. Just this much is plenty, plenty to work with. What is the past, what is the present? What is “thinking”? What is “knowing”? What is “seeing” sound or form? Form is in the present, but the form is still in the present, can you see it?
Look at the wall—“seeing” once, twice, you see it, but when you noted it the first time is now past. When you note “seeing” the second time it is the present, but when you note it the third time, the second is now past. It is always arising and falling like this. This is aniccam, dukkham, anatta. Form is constant, but when you contemplate it in terms of the Dhamma it isn’t constant. This hall is constant in terms of material shape, but the mind is not constant, it is impermanent, aniccam. You note “seeing” one time, the mind is inconstant. But the wall is constant, it appears as fixed and stable. You note it three times. The third time is the present, if you note it for a fourth time, the fourth time is the present, but the third has become the past. Can you explain this?
Set up your mindfulness well. Observe and you will know the past. “Seeing, seeing”. Someone walks toward you, the first ”seeing” has become the past, the second “seeing” is the present. When you “see” for the third time, the second noting is then past. Then you will see people walking toward you as just impermanent. The mind changes, it becomes Dhamma. The mental state is always changing, it can never be stable, but material forms are stable, they remain as they have always been, but the mind, namadhamma, changes. The mind changes, thinking that the body changes. The body does change, it gets old, it deteriorates in accordance with its nature. We can see that if we look at five sections of the movie reel strip, it appears to be still, but when the reel is turned, the picture shows movement, right and left, we see the right hand and the left hand. It shows movements like this. None of you understand this. Material form is a movie also, but it moves much faster so that we can’t see it with the naked eye…it becomes an image of someone walking, someone sitting, a mouth talking, just like in a movie. The fact is it is just still, but when the film is rolling it is like the mind which is always changing, which must think of this and that all the time. It changes, it is aniccam, impermanent; it is dukkham, suffering, it cannot be controlled. The mind when it searches out the birthplace of suffering can change and become Dhamma, it realizes anatta, no self. We have to talk about the practice, don’t bring the text books into it. Meditators don’t need to know in advance. If you do you will be always estimating what you should be doing next and you won’t be able to keep the mind in a good state. You will become confused and distracted and lose you mindfulness. You will become on who talks too much, that is why you must practice as I have described it here.
The teacher may ask meditators, be the monks or lay people, “When you note standing five times, where is your mindfulness established?” This is how they read your mind (sorp arom): where is your mind directed, where has your mind got to? Does it experience things quickly or slowly? When gauging a meditator’s practice one must ask like this. “Oh, the mind advances slowly, you haven’t got it yet. You are only thinking. Your mindfulness is not up to your thinking. This is not good enough, you have to observe again.” This is how they gauge the meditator’s mental state. May you newly ordained bhikkhus, heirs of the Dhamma, take this and use it to teach your children and grandchildren when you disrobe, Like this: How do you separate mind from body, nanarupaparicchedanana? It’s not just a matte of practicing for seven days and getting all sixteen levels of insight, listening to a teaching on the levels of insight and becoming a Stream Enterer. I’ve practiced for 30 years and I’m still not a Stream Enterer. Nowadays they attain Stream Entry so easily.
I leave this with the bhikkhus who are Heirs of the Dhamma, so that you may use it to teach your children and grandchildren. Separate the mind and the body: what is the body? What is the mind? The body is stable, what is it? It is stable, it is plainly sitting there. As you look at it you note “seeing, seeing” and it changes. A form painted red becomes black, you see it very clearly. This is aniccam, impermanence, “seeing” a little more and it becomes the past. Continue to note and you see someone walking towards you, and they change. With “seeing” a little more and it becomes the past. Continue to note and you see someone walking towards you, and they change. With “seeing”, your mindfulness is good, your comprehension is good. “Oh, this person is walking towards me,” “seeing, seeing” from the tip of the hair to the soles of the feet, from the soles of the feet upwards to the tip of the hair. The word “seeing? Can answer immediately: this person is smiling broadly as he comes towards us: “seeing” knows in the present, “this person is dangerous, don’t trust him, don’t tell him any secrets, don’t speak carelessly with this person on any account.” This is wisdom. Wisdom arises like this.
It’s not just “seeing” or “rising” and that’s the end of it, “left step,” “right step” and that’s the end of it. Wisdom doesn’t arise in this way. This is how I answer. Almost nobody sees this. What do you see” You don’t get anything out of the practice. Why do you overlook this? You don’t experience “seeing”, you don’t note “sound.” All you do is chat. If you establish mindfulness, you will see “sound…Oh, it’s like this. This is the sound of people chatting, this is the sound of people conferring, this is the sound of people working. This is the sound of people being successful, this is the sound of people selling things.” “Sound”…when mindfulness is established, clear comprehension follows. Together they lead to wisdom, you can answer immediately that the business they are talking about is doomed to failure, and it’s true. This is wisdom talking. It will tell you about impermanence, suffering and not self, the Three Characteristics.
Right here, how do you separate mind and body? Body is a condition that changes, it can change and deceive you. If you note while you are standing at the wall, “standing,” “seeing, seeing, seeing, seeing”—just keep on noting, when mindfulness is good, wisdom will arise. The image will tell you. We dance around like characters in a movie, but we know that we must change, we will soon be aged and decrepit: here will soon deteriorate, there will soon be useless, we will have to repair it. This is the mundane kind of benefit. We know what needs to be repaired, what needs to be repaired first. This is the changing nature of the body.
But the mind, namadhamma, if there is no Dhamma, it can change. Your mind can always change. Nama in itself cannot change. Tale truthfully, really do it. All things are like that. Dhamma enters into our work through our lives, our minds. Such a person cannot become evil, he cannot change into an evil person. However, he can transform evil into goodness in the mind by adding Dhamma to it. Using mindfulness and clear comprehension, noting all things, seeing them as namadhamma: “rising, falling”—are they same? How do they differ? When the mind notes rising, how may stages are there? Is the mind directed at the beginning, the middle or the end of the rising? At this point you must ask right here. How many stages are there to the falling? How do you establish mindfulness at the beginning? How do you establish mindfulness at the middle? At the end where is your mindfulness directed? What is the mind like? And how does it stop? You can answer immediately if you can do it. You will see clearly, each person for himself. Some people may answer that there are three stages, some may answer two stages, some may answer that there is one stage. And we can tell from their answers how their meditations is going, how good their observation is. This is how they gauge your meditation.
Secondly, the eye sees form, and the mind notes it; “right step,” and the mind notes it; the ear hears sounds and the mind notes it; the tongue experiences a taste, and the mind notes it; the nose smells an odor and the mind notes it. I want to ask you whether the mind that notes the ear hearing sound and the mind that notes the eye seeing form are the same mind or not? What are they like? Are they the same for each sense impression? How do you answer this? How do you answer? This is how they gauge your meditation, they gauge it like this. Those who can meditate answer that the mind notes “seeing” and then on the second noting the first noting has disappeared. The second noting is another mind (citta) arising in its place, the old mind ceases. It is impermanent. Then the third mind comes, “seeing” and then ceasing, the fourth, “seeing” and then ceasing, the fifth, “seeing” and wisdom arises. Wisdom of what? “This form approaching me now, I must quickly rise to greet them, to arrange a seat, because they are in a hurry.” This is after only five times, can you do it? You don’t know, do you?
May you wise people take this method of mine and use it as a path of practice, like this: “sound”: the mind notes sound another time and then it ceases. The first noting ceases and becomes the past. The second noting is now the present. The third noting becomes the present, then the second becomes the past. And then we ask how the mind that notes “seeing” differs from the mind that notes “hearing”. Are they different? Are they the same mind? Are they the same mind with a different object? They are surely different, they are surely different mental objects. The mind that aspires is the same, but if they are at different stages. The mind that aspires is the same, but if they are at different stages, different mental impressions, how can they be the same? Are they the same? Have you meditators ever notice this? No, never. Can you note “rising, falling” in the proper rhythm? If you have the right rhythm, can you change, see it as the states of impermanence, suffering and not self? Is “rising” materiality (rupa), is “falling” materiality? If you just know that rising and falling are materiality and the noting mind is mentality, that is not good enough. “Rising,” oh, it all stops; “falling” it all stops; “rising,” “falling”—they all cease.
If you have good mindfulness and clear comprehension, good concentration, the first thirty minutes of noting rising and falling you may feel very painful, restless, and agitated, but the next thirty minutes will be smooth sailing, your observation will be fluent and up to the events in the present moment. The five khandhas will be your object of meditation. You will give different answers, your mind will change and you will give different answers. If you once answered that there are three stages, you will now answer that there are two. Later on there many be only one stage left. A skilled teacher must look into this and ascertain whether the meditator can really do it; whether he is just giving what he thinks is the right answer, or whether he is answering according to what he sees inside himself. The teacher must be skilled, he must be clever, he must be able to do the practice himself and answer for himself. “Right step”: can your mind note the right step in the present moment?…It can. Where is your mindfulness directed? Where is your mind? What state is it in? You know it fluently. The left step is just a fluent, there is no wandering. Then ask, “Are the right step and the left step the same or not?” How do you answer? And the mind which notes the right step and the mind which notes the left step, are they the same? Are they the same mind? You can’t just guess the answer, you must know it for yourself in your own mind. Then it is very clear.
When you can answer, “Oh, that’s it:” are the minds which note eye, ear, nose and tongue, the same of not? When sense contact arises how does the mind react? How do sense impression arise? If you note in this way I guarantee you will get good results. You will definitely gain fruits of the practice. While lying down, not, “rising, falling” until the noting is fluent, then you will know clearly for yourself that now your mindfulness is good, your clear comprehension is good, they are fluent and clear. Then your mind will become cloudy, it will wander, but you establish mindfulness again and then the mind plunges down, like a car running off a high bridge, it plunges down and goes into great wealth. You won’t be able to see yourself, you will disappear, and your mindfulness will be so good it is as if in the palm of your hand. A great light will arise, and you will not experience external sense impression. And internally what is the mind like? Ask yourself. What is it like? When you are sleeping you know, how does mindfulness take note of internal sense impressions? If you can do it you will be able to answer. You can give a clear answer if you do this.
This is how you gauge your meditation. “Right, left”, where is your mindfulness directed? “Rising, falling”, how do you note it? Do you let your mind push ahead of you? Or does your mind follow on behind, or does it stay in the middle? If you can do it you can easily answer these questions. If the practice is right it will eventually lead to vision (nana). Your mindfulness is good, “rising, falling”, it changes. It won’t stay the same. Sometimes it will be sluggish, sometimes it will be so fast you won’t be able to keep up with it. It changes like this, it doesn’t stay the same. In a minutes it changes, then it rushes down, rushes out in front. What do you do? Why does it rush out like that? Why does it stagger? Why can’t you keep up with it? Why can’t your see the rising and falling, what is the reason? This is how you gauge your meditation. If you can’t see it, how do you note it? “Knowing, knowing” but you can’t know it, what do you do? You can’t see it. How do you know it” Take long breaths, deep, long breaths, don’t bother noting it yet. This is the way to deal with it: take deep long breaths. Then what do you do? You still can’t see the rising and the falling? If your can’t see them and you can’t rectify the situation what do you do? If the problem still doesn’t go away. This is how you deal with that problem. But you’ve never done it, have you? What kind of practice is that? What are you noting? You don’t even know yourselves, what are you going to get from the practice?
This is how you gauge meditation practice. You have to ask, “rising, falling:” where do you direct your mindfulness? Where does your mind go at the end of each? And how does it start so that it is in proper rhythm? Ask like this, then you will get results. The meditator will answer, “the rising is short,” “the rising is long”, “the falling is short”: can you note it when it’s the short? “No I can’t.” Then change. If you can note it, keep on going. But if you get tired, and you can no longer do the noting, what do you do? Why is the mind tired? The breaths are uneven. If the breaths are uneven you will get tired, and you won’t be able to note, then you will get very tired. You must very slowly lie down. This is the way to deal with the problem. Fold your hands at your stomach, breathe very deeply beforehand, get the proper rhythm. When you have the right rhythm, when your breath is properly adjusted, continue to note it, then you will surely gain results.
Sometimes I ask about these things and nobody knows about them at all. They’ve practiced for a long time but they still don’t know. Even with such simple things as this, but you must be able to do this. Corporeality (rupa) and mentality (nama), the five khandhas, are your meditation objects. How do you separate corporeality, how do you separate mentality? Don’t forget corporeality, the body: when it makes contact with the mind the condition known as corporeality arises, persists and then ceases. Nothing is stable, and it is impossible to keep up with the events, but then we can do it. Wisdom arise, we see things as they are actually happening in the present moment. When we can see things in the present moment, we can easily understand what is happening: “Oh, long in breath, long out breath;” when is it ever stable? It is always changing, and seeing this we will feel at ease, metta, goodwill, will arise in our minds. The views we once held are changed, from being a hot-headed person we become cool, from being a scattered and confused person we become calm, and from calmness arises wisdom; from wisdom arises wise thinking; from wise thinking comes skillful and profound speech, fluency in work, and such a person is able to see what is actually happening in the present moment, through this method. This is one point.
Now I want to ask you all whether, when you are asleep, you are aware? Can you discern what your sleeping is like? When you sleep where is your mindfulness directed? Nobody can answer even a simple question like this. Today I want you to assess the results of your practice. And when you note “thinking,” what do you think? But, no, you’ve never noted it. It’s just the past, it’s gone already. Whenever you can note thinking you will have mindfulness and you can actually recollect events of your life clearly just by noting “thinking”. ”It’s extremely useful. Can you recollect things that you’d previously forgotten, in regard to the law of karma? If you have mindfulness, wisdom arises, and thoughts about karma will appear as visions (nimitta), enabling us to know that, for instance, tomorrow we must repay a debt of old karma, and we will derive some benefit. This is the past, but it’s revealing results in the present, and giving results in the future. You still cannot answer even this. I’ve asked you many times now, but you keep practicing other thins, that is why you don’t get any results from the practice. We can know all about sounds: we hear the sound of a bird, we not “hearing,” and we can know, “Oh, a bird cries fro two reasons.” The mind tells us this. When we walk past a tree, and our mindfulness is good and comprehension clear, the tree will reveal its mood to us as it is at that time. But even this you can’t see.
This is the practice in brief, very simple, it’s the beginning. We analyze the five khandhas, mentality and corporeality: For example, when we hear a sound we separate the sound and the ear, we separate the eye from the sight, the smell from the nose: how do they differ? When there is contact the mind arises: the mind at the nose experiences odors good and bad, how are they distinguished? How are the tongue and taste distinguished? Whoever can distinguish them will never complain about the food. Whoever can distinguish between the sound and the ear will never complain about others abusing him. Whoever can distinguish between the eye and sights will never criticize people passing by, he will se them with wisdom. He will see that all people are worthy of compassion, they are pitiful. By noting “seeing” and establishing mindfulness the meditator becomes calm.
The five khandhas, mentality and corporeality, are our meditation objects, our objects of analysis. When you hear sound, are sound and ear the same sound and ear the same thing or different? When you see a sight, are the visual object and eye the same thing or different? Why are they different? How are they the same? If you have wisdom and can distinguish mentality from corporeality, you will be able to estimate, to answer, without looking at any books. Do this first. Can you do it yet: “right step,” “left step”: can you keep your attention in the present moment? The slower you can do it, almost like someone who is dying, the better. Then you will see the state of things in the present moment fluently, and you will be able to accrue credits: that is, to amass mindfulness and clear comprehension within yourself. When it’s time to do anything, mindfulness will tell you what to do. This is a fruit of the practice.
What I am saying is that you have all lived in the Wat for a long time now: can you answer any of these questions: “rising, falling”: how many stages are there in the rising? How many in the falling? How do you note the first stage, how do you note the middle stage, how do you note the end stage? When there is only one stage left, what does that mean, “one stage”? When you are tired or when certain things arise, how do you note them? Can you do just this? It’s not just a matter of walking meditation when you happen to think of it or just sitting with your eyes closed and your mind shut off—no wisdom arises like this. You must have awareness at all times, you must understand at all times, wisdom must arise at all times, in the present moment. This is the past, this the present, this the future. This is a really important point, it’s not a matter of guesswork or just estimating according to book knowledge. If that were the case you wouldn’t have to practice. You would just have to know about the sense bases, the elements and the faculties, and that would be enough. Then you would have phony vipassana—vipassaneuk (thinking). It wouldn’t be vipassana, and you wouldn’t get any results that way. You wouldn’t develop the endurance or mental stability that could evolve into awareness in the present moment.
Through this method: “rising,” “falling,” getting into the right rhythm, mindfulness will improve by stages and clear comprehension will arise. They support each other, you see the falling of the abdomen very clearly, then you experience each of the stages of insight knowledge. Some of these stages actually make you feel tired of the practice. What has arisen? What stage of insight knowledge is it? I don’t mean just saying the words or guessing for yourself what stage of insight you have. Especially myself, I have not attained any of the higher stages of insight knowledge. It’s the lower stages we can do, it’s these lower stages that help us to progress because they are not too high for us. Other people can do it, we must be able to do it also, and this is the main point of the practice.
Today I would like to leave this with you all, meditators. Don’t just sit around and chat for seven days and seven nights! Get down to the practice, and when a problem arises in the practice, note it for yourself, be in step with events in the present moment, then you will know things as they arise. The Three Characteristiecs will arise: it is all aniccam, impermanent, unstable, undependable. You will see this clearly, wisdom arises. You will know the truth of all conditions through practicing in this simple way. And observe your feelings (vedana). “Oh, pain is just a small matter.” Just set up your mindfulness well. Separate the feeling from the mind. The mind will change, the feeling will be on one side, the contact with it on another, the wisdom of mentality and corporeality on another. And since corporeality is always arising and ceasing, feeling disappears. You must separate it with this method of practice.
Here, lay supporters, practicers of the Dhamma, you must establish this standard, not just sitting with your eyes closed. You must investigate with wisdom, by observing your mind, establishing mindfulness at all time. Be clear in your walking meditation, practice well, and make your noting in step with the present moment, as the five khandhas, mentality and corporeality, arise. These are the initial stages of the development of insight knowledge. We must know what is going on. Whoever nods a lot (in the sitting) has lost mindfulness. This initial practice of noting is very important, that is why I have explained the results of the practice to you. Just make your practice of meditation consistent: walk meditation then sit; sit then walk. Just practice like this consistently for seven days and seven nights and you will get results. What kind of result can you get in seven days and seven nights? You get the result of awareness of mentality and corporeality. How do you get the results? You have good mindfulness and clear comprehension in the present moment, you know things as they happen in your life and you can meet problems as they arise in the present moment. This is very important.
From now on, please take an interest in this. Practice on the right path without having to think a lot about it or looking up the books, just develop wisdom in yourself. You have to do the practice before you can know; you can’t know first then do the practice. Nowadays they “know” first. If you know before you actually practice what results can you expect? All you get is phony results. You have to do the practice first before knowledge will arise, how can you know before you practice? I’ve noticed this tendency for a long time now. I would like to reiterate to you: even “sound” you haven’t bothered to note. Have you noted “thinking”? Have you noted corporeality. Don’t forget that thinking is the past, just like the things that you’ve forgotten from your childhood. To know you have to remember the present moment. You don’t yet really know, you must note “knowing, knowing”, “sound, sound”. It’s past already, how can you prevent your mindfulness from slipping? You must observe the present moment, not the past. Do you understand this? You must understand. You must observe “knowing” first because (the thinking) has already past. Just pay attention to the present, not the past. Don’t bother with the past. If you’ve forgotten something in the past and you want to remember it, just observe the past by noting “thinking, thinking”, breathing deeply. But does anybody do this? No, nobody does. I feel really sorry for you all, that you do not practice according to this method. That’s why you can’t remember things, you can’t tell me about them, you can’t use your thinking, you don’t see your own death, you don’t give up your views, you don’t get a chance to develop right thinking. You must concentrate like this, it’s important. I would like to give just this much explanation of the practice.
May all you meditators establish you minds, and I would like to advise all of you monks who are wise and intelligent to devote yourselves to your duty. Separate the mentality from the corporeality, analyze each of the five aggregates (khandhas): the aggregate of form, the aggregate of feeling, the aggregate of perception, the aggregate of volitional formations, the aggregate of consciousness. You must be able to separate them all from each other in this practice. Form is form, what arises contingent on form is feeling. In the vedana khandha there are three kinds of feeling: pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. It never changes. Perception is the memory of things, it must be noted as thinking. Can you remember it? You can’t. The past jumps up, then you forget it, it all passes away, always arising and ceasing. You must attend instead to the present. That is why you must note “knowing, knowing, knowing”—because it is the past, it has already gone, you can’t note it as it happens. Correct things in the present. If you can’t correct them in the present what can you do? You must reconcentrate your mind, reestablish it, bring it back to the present. If you can
Credit: Page Link