The Dhamma Teaching of
Acariya Maha Boowa in London
The talks and answers to questions given by Ven. Acariya Maha Boowa (Bhikkhu Ñanasampanno Maha Thera)
while visiting the Dhammapadipa Vihara in London in June, 1974
Acariya Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno
Translated from the Thai book entitled Ven. Acariya Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno in London by
Bhikkhu Paññavaddho




Introduction [go to top]

The Ven. Acariya Maha Boowa (Bhikkhu Ñanasampanno) accepted an invitation to go to England in June 1974 together with two other Bhikkhus, Ven. Paññavaddho and Ven. Abhiceto, originally from the U.K. and Canada respectively. All three had the good fortune to be able to stay at the Dhammapadipa Vihara in Haverstock Hill which was run by the English Sangha Trust.1 It was there that Acariya Maha Boowa gave the talks recorded in this book, the only exception to this being the discussion on 13th June in the morning at Cambridge, when the Bhikkhus went to receive food at Mr. Benedic Wint's house.

The talks given by Acariya Maha Boowa were tape recorded, but the questions and answers were mostly taken down in shorthand by M.R. Sermsri Kasemsri. It is mainly due to her efforts, not only in taking down the questions and answers, but also in subsequently transcribing all the talks and her shorthand notes and typing out the manuscript, that the Thai book was produced from which this translation was made.

Translation from Thai into English does not normally present any special problems. But in the case of this book the origin of it was the spoken word, and in addition the subject matter is Dhamma which involves many concepts and technicalities for which English has a rather poor vocabulary and often a lack of the necessary fundamental concepts.

The teachings of Buddhism may in fact be compared to a technical subject such as chemistry or electronics in that many technical terms and phrases are necessary, and also special concepts and ways of thinking are needed in order to understand and appreciate the reasoning and truth of Buddhism.

When it comes to a question of whether to translate a technical word (nearly always from the Pali language into English, the reasoning that has been used is approximately as follows: If a word in Pali (or Thai) has a well-known and accurate equivalent in English, then the English word is used (e.g., Sati — Mindfulness; Pañña — Wisdom). But if there is no well-known or accurate equivalent or if the use of an English word leads to more confusion or misunderstanding than the original Pali word then the Pali word is used (e.g., Samadhi, Jhana).

I must apologise to those people who are not familiar with Pali terms and who find difficulty in reading a book such as this which has many Pali terms, but I feel sure that it is far better for readers to not understand rather than to misunderstand. In any case, following on this introduction is a short list of those Pali words which occur frequently in the book, together with a brief assessment of their meaning so that the reader who is not familiar with those words can have a ready reference. There is also a more complete glossary at the end of the book.

I should like to thank all those who have helped to produce this book, including M.R. Sermsri Kasemsri for her work on the original book in Thai; Mr. Michael Shameklis for his help in translation of the first thirty or so pages; Tan Suchard (Bhikkhu Abhijato) for helping to correct many many translation mistakes, and to Tan Chris (Bhikkhu Cittobhaso) for typing out the manuscript.

Bhikkhu Paññavaddho
Wat Pah Ban Tard
Udorn Thani

Brief list of words that are usually left untranslated in the text

  • Citta — The heart (in the emotional sense, but not the physical heart), the "one who knows" (but often knows wrongly). The nearest English equivalent is the word "mind," except that "mind" is usually understood as being the thinking, reasoning apparatus located in the head, which is too narrow a meaning for the word "Citta".

  • Dhamma — (i) the ultimate meaning is that basis which is behind all phenomena and is thus the truth. It is unchanging and is thus not knowable by that which is impermanent. (ii) in the sense of Buddha Dhamma, meaning those practices and ways of behavior that conforms to Dhamma and lead one towards Dhamma.

  • Dukkha — Discontent, Dissatisfaction, Suffering, Pain, Anguish. Dukkha is a very broad and general term covering all those things that are unpleasant, irritating and disturbing.

  • Kilesas — Those defiling states arising from greed, hate, and delusion which constantly tend to lead us against Dhamma.

  • Nibbana — That state of the Citta in which all the Kilesas and Dukkha have been eradicated.

  • Samadhi — Absorption of the mind when concentrating one pointedly on an object. It has many levels and few people know more than the initial stages of it.

  • Tan Acharn — Tan is a Thai word meaning Venerable. Acharn is also Thai and derived from Acariya — teacher.

  • Vimutti — Freedom, Liberation, in the sense of freedom from the Kilesas, Dukkha, and attachment to the mundane relative world (Sammuti).

First Meeting [go to top]

Sunday, 9th June 1974

Questions and Answers

Q1 W1:2

In establishing mindfulness of breathing, should one fix one's attention at the nose or in the stomach region?


In establishing mindfulness of breathing, one should fix one's Sati (mindfulness) on and contemplate the point of contact of the breath. One should not go up and down with it, but keep the Citta (mind) fixed on the point of contact. If the breath seems to become fainter and fainter, it is nothing to be afraid of or to worry about; the breath has not ceased — it is still there. The kind of meditation which one practices depends on the character of each individual practitioner, but the development of the mindfulness of breathing is a practice suitable for the majority of people. The important factor in any method of mind-development is mindfulness (Sati). Forgetting mindfulness means failing in one's task, and one will not get results. One should therefore take care of one's mindfulness and keep it present in any method of mind-development.

Q2 W1:

When sitting in meditation, why is it I get the feeling that there is something pulling my forehead backwards? The muscles in my forehead become tight and I get a headache. Is there any way to remedy this?


You will have to lessen the intenseness which brings this about. Let the Citta be absorbed only in the breathing. If you are too intense, you will get a headache. The flow3 of the Citta is very important. You can concentrate strongly or mildly, and what you concentrate on will give you results, much or little accordingly.

Q3 M1:

My being a Buddhist has caused my friends to talk about me. They say that at one time I used to be a person full of fun and high spirits, and that now I am the exact opposite. I have lost a lot of friends and even my wife misunderstands me and disagrees with me. How can I solve this problem?


Being a Buddhist does not mean that one must be quiet or look solemn. If friends try to get you to go in a way which is unwholesome, and you are observing the moral precepts (sila) you should not follow them. You might lose your friends but you will not lose yourself. If you are satisfied that you have gone the way of wholesomeness, you should consider the Buddha as an example. He was a prince who had a large retinue and many friends. He renounced the world, gave up those friends, and went to dwell alone for many years. After he had attained Enlightenment, he was surrounded by friends and had many disciples who were arahants (pure ones), monks as well as nuns, laymen and laywomen, until the number of Buddhists was more than the population of the world.4

We all believe in the teachings of the Buddha, which unites the hearts and minds of all Buddhists. We therefore should not be afraid of having no friends.

We should think, first of all, that our friends do not yet understand us, and so they drift away and no longer associate with us. Our way of practice in the way of wholesomeness still remains, however. One should see this — and that there are still good people in the world! Good people eventually meet and become friends with other good people, and these good people will be our friends. If there are no good people in the world, and if there is nobody interested in associating with us, then we should associate with the Dhamma — with Buddho, Dhammo, and Sangho in our hearts, which is better than friends who are not interested in goodness at all. Buddho, Dhammo, and Sangho are friends which are truly excellent.

Ordinarily, those good friends of yours will come back to you. You should therefore rest assured that if your heart is satisfied that you are going in a wholesome direction, then that is enough. You should not be concerned with or worry about others more than yourself. You should be responsible for yourself in the present and in the future, for there is nobody but yourself who can raise you up to a higher level.

Q4 W1:

I also had that same experience. My mother knows that I have become a Buddhist, and she is so upset that she prays to God for my return to Christianity once again. She is very concerned about me. How should I help her?


My mother was also worried about my coming to England. She was afraid that I might die or that something serious might happen. But I saw that there were good reasons for coming to which she could hardly object, so even though she did not want me to come, she had to accept those reasons — and I came.

Please understand that Buddhism does not teach people to draw away from each other. Buddhism and Christianity both teach people to be good so that they will be happy and go to heaven. If we compare the city of London to heaven, we could tell people that there are many ways to enter the city. When they have chosen a way and made use of it, all of them will reach London. Whatever religion one has, one should practice it accordingly. They will meet in heaven.

Buddhism, however, besides having a way to reach heaven, also has the way to reach Nibbana. If one understands and practices according to the teachings and wants to reach Nibbana, there are ways for going beyond. Nibbana means the complete absence of Dukkha (unsatisfactoriness, suffering, dis-ease). The Buddha and his arahant disciples, being completely free from all defilements (Kilesas), have all attained to Nibbana. One therefore should not be worried about anyone who follows them. You should explain this to your mother so that she will not worry about you, for what Buddhism teaches will be for the stability and prosperity of society. It encourages people to be good, so tell your mother not to worry, that Buddhism is not hell, and that it does not bring disaster or ruin to those who practice its teachings.

Q5 W1:

My husband is the same. He does not understand what it is that I am doing and he is not at all satisfied with me. It took me twenty years of asking him to let me sit in meditation before he would allow me to do so. I've been sitting in meditation for five years now. (My husband does not understand about spiritual needs, and so whenever I met someone whose interest was the same as mine, someone to turn to and be friends with, my husband would become suspicious.)


When your husband saw that what you were doing was good, that you were not doing anything which was wrong, he consented of his own accord. This is what usually happens in the practice of virtue, which is a difficult thing to have done. Even in one's own heart one hesitates to do good things. When one thinks of doing something good, another thought arises to prevent one from doing it. Such conflicting thoughts are bound to struggle with each other before one can turn to the way of virtue.

Other people interfering with us is a normal obstacle, but people cannot vie with oneself in the hindrances one makes for oneself. This is probably the case with everyone. When one wants to do something which is good, which is useful, a state of mind is liable to arise as a hindrance, thus preventing it and one then wastes a lot of time. Beyond that, it can lead one to do evil things which are also harmful, and generally speaking lead to harm.

Q6 W2:

If one knows that something is not good, one can restrain oneself, keeping oneself from doing it. Or, if the desire to do something is so strong that one will end up doing it, one can go ahead and do it until one gets the bad results — then one will dread it. For example, one knows that one will get a stomachache from eating too many sweets. One can go ahead and eat until one gets the stomachache, then one will automatically stop. Which one of these two methods is better?


Knowing what is not good, training the heart, restraining oneself, not allowing oneself to do something is better because no harm is done. If one makes use of the method of giving free rein to the heart, of indulging one's desires until one experiences their bad results and one then stops by oneself, how does one know that one will not die before one can bring oneself around? And it is just possible that one will not know the way to get back. (This is the ruining of one's own life.)

Q7 M2:

I use the method of being aware of the rising — falling of the stomach region, and it seems as if there is something rubbing my stomach. What is this?


Are you satisfied with that sensation or not? When you practice meditation and the Citta is quiet, and cool, this is good. Then you get the feeling that there is something hard rubbing your stomach. But when the Citta is quiet, you are satisfied, this is what matters.

When you get a feeling that there is something rubbing against your stomach, you should understand that this is only a state of mind manifesting itself, that it is not anything real or anything that is useful to the Citta. You should then make the Citta be aware of the rising — falling. Do not let the mind dwell on the sensation of rubbing. That sensation will subside and pass away by itself.

Q8 W3:

When I sit in meditation and my mind is near to being one-pointed, near to being calm, it usually withdraws from this state. It goes in and out, in and out, as if it was about to go through a door but then will not go through. How can I correct this?


When sitting in meditation, are you not aware of the breath going in and out? If you are and you follow the breath in and out, this will happen. You should fix your mind only on the place where there is contact with the moving air. You will then feel the breath become fainter and fainter until it ceases altogether. The Citta will then enter the state of tranquillity (Samatha), and it will not go in and out, in and out, as you said.

Q9 W1:

In meditation practice, is it better to sit by oneself or to sit in a group? I and four friends study meditation with the Chaokhun at Wat Buddhapadipa — who has since disrobed. When I sit by myself, I feel that it is good, but when I sit with my four friends, I feel anxious and then my practice is not very good. My friends are beginners. Can we help each other or not?


You've sat in meditation in a group before, how do you feel about it? Satisfied or not? If you feel that you are giving strength to each other, this is good. Even if you yourself feel anxious, yet your friends may gain strength to meditate from you, which is again good. Bhikkhus usually sit in meditation by themselves except when they go to listen to the instruction from their teacher. Apart from that, each does his own practice without worrying about anyone else. The Citta can become relaxed and peaceful more quickly than sitting in a group because there is nothing to disturb it or to make it anxious.

Q10 W1:

When my meditation is good there seems to be some kind of thread extending about one foot out of my body. Then something seems to come and strike it. This is very painful.


How is it now? Is it still there or not?


It does not happen anymore now because I felt that pain to be Dukkha. I countered it and was patient and it went away by itself.


That feeling is an emotional production — Arammana — of the Citta. Sitting in meditation does not cause it to arise. It is the Citta itself which causes it to arise. If you bring the Citta back to the heart-base in the chest and firmly hold it there, such a feeling will go away by itself.

Q11 W1:

Sometimes it seems as though my Citta goes out to my friend or my friend's Citta comes to me.


That is sending the Citta outside of oneself which is not good for a person who has just begun meditation practice. Only those who are skilled at practice can send their Citta inside and outside without difficulty because they already know the way to practice.

Ven. Paññavaddho:

When at first we sat down here, Tan Acharn explained that in practicing the mindfulness of breathing, one should contemplate the in-breath and the out-breath until the breath is very fine. One keeps the Citta firmly fixed at the point of contact until there seems to be no more breathing. The Citta will then be peaceful. There is no need to be afraid of the breath stopping, it will still be there. When the breath has become fine, the Citta will feel cool, peaceful. Sometimes, as far as one can tell, breathing seems to have ceased altogether, and the Citta is then very subtle.


Please express to Tan Acharn our appreciation for his kindness in coming to talk with us. We are very pleased indeed.

Tan Acharn Maha Boowa said that he would give a short explanation of the Dhamma each day. The following is his first Dhamma explanation.

Buddhism is derived from practice, because the Buddha himself practiced until he himself knew and saw and was able to do it for himself, and only then did he begin to teach others. Buddhists therefore understand the importance of practicing and training themselves according to the teachings. Learning for the purpose of gaining knowledge and understanding, but without putting it into regular practice, will not bring results as it ought to. One should therefore study and practice moral precepts (Sila) until it becomes higher morality (Adhisila), study all the different levels of wisdom (Pañña) until one reaches the level of higher wisdom (Adhipañña), and study freedom (Vimutti). One must then practice until one truly reaches freedom, until one has truly escaped (from Samsara). Practice is therefore the most important part of Buddhism.

When one who has practiced has reached any particular state of development, he will know this for himself. For example, if he practices the development of mindfulness of breathing, he will know what the state of his breath is, and he will know to what extent the Citta is quiet, still and peaceful. But he must have mindfulness and he must not let the Citta wander outside.5 For someone who is beginning to practice, the most important thing is the Citta and mindfulness. The Citta will improve if mindfulness is there to control it, and it will then be peaceful, cheerful, bright, and happiness will come by itself. But if the Citta is not controlled by mindfulness and if it is allowed free rein so that any and all thoughts can insert themselves, the Citta will not be peaceful and happiness will not arise. Therefore, the most important rule is to not let the imagination give rise to emotionally charged thoughts. Train the Citta to be truly peaceful and happiness will then follow in the wake of the calm which gradually develops. A high degree of calm means a high degree of happiness — until it reaches an extraordinary happiness which comes from the more subtle levels of concentration.

For myself, I feel that today is a fortunate occasion in that I have been able to meet you English Buddhists. I'm sorry that I can't speak to you in English and must depend on Ven. Paññavaddho to help translate. On this auspicious occasion, let us all sit in meditation together, each practicing according to his ability. Some of you can perhaps sit for a long time and some of you may tire quickly. Let each of you decide for how long you can sit before you get bodily discomfort and pain arising so that you gradually withdraw from Samadhi. You should, however, try to put up with the pain and discomfort for a while because you really want happiness of heart. You have already experienced and know enough about other kinds of happiness and you have no doubts about them, enough not to be attracted to them.

When I was able to sit in meditation for twelve or thirteen hours and it became painful, I contemplated the place where the pain was and asked, "What is it that's painful? One finger? One bone? If they are painful, why are they not painful after one is dead? Why is it that they are painful? If the Citta is where the pain is, then if one does not have a body does that mean that the Citta dies too, or not?" and so on until I reached the truth (Saccadhamma). But if one is going to contemplate painful feeling, one must be brave enough to find the truth. One's desire to know the truth must be stronger than the pain and death. Mindfulness and wisdom must be continually traversing throughout oneself like a wheel which is turning; then one can know.

Questions Continued

Q12 M2:

What is the good of sitting in Samadhi for a long time?


Only sitting for a long time is not good. One must get results from one's sitting. Then, being engrossed in one's contemplation, a long time will pass by itself. The final result will be that one becomes happy and free from pain and this is good. If one arouses wisdom, when it has arisen the Citta will be bright and cheerful and it will gain in strength, and in the future it will not give up when strong pain arises while sitting in meditation for a long time.

Q13 M2:

Should one then only know that the pain in one's bones or fingers is Dukkha?


Only knowing that it is Dukkha is not enough. One must contemplate it, examining it with wisdom until one completely understands it. For example, one should contemplate where the exact location of this Dukkha is, and why those who have died do not feel pain. The dead do not know anything; take a corpse and burn it and it does not feel the heat. "Knowing that something is painful;" what is this? Is it the Citta? When the body has died, does the Citta not die as well?

When one searches for the basis of truth and one meets truth (Saccadhamma), one understands clearly, one truly knows and understands all the time and the heart is freed from attachment. If one does not know truly, the heart is still attached. The more one wants to be rid of Dukkha, the more the Dukkha and the origin of Dukkha (Samudaya) will increase in one's heart. Instead of getting rid of the origin of Dukkha, one succeeds only in increasing it more than ever.

Q14 M2:

If one knows nature clearly and thoroughly, one would then see Dukkha as natural, normal; is that not right?


Know Dukkha, know the nature of the body, know that having a body is Dukkha, that the body is its own Dukkha; know the nature of the Citta, and knowing the Citta's natural state, know that the Citta by itself has no Dukkha. Why does the Citta have Dukkha at all? If one truly knows all this, Saccadhamma will help to free one from Dukkha. There is no Dukkha which can affect the heart if both these aspects are truly known in their relationship to each other.


I was very glad to hear how the pain and suffering which one gets arises and passes away, and how to train the Citta to get rid of it until one has reached freedom.


In practicing Dhamma, each person has various experiences and when we ask questions about these experiences and people hear about each other's experiences, we gradually widen our understanding. This encourages us and gives us all heart.

The Venerable Acharn then invited those present to sit in meditation and he himself sat in meditation for a time before returning to his quarters, leaving the lay people there each to sit in meditation as long as they liked.

Second Meeting [go to top]

Monday, 10th June 1974

The Venerable Acharn began by asking the following question: "Is there anything useful in particular that you would like to discuss today? There may be many things." When those in the room remained silent, the Venerable Acharn began as follows:

Sitting in meditation while listening to an explanation of Dhamma will greatly help to calm the Citta. I shall therefore begin with an explanation of the Dhamma and while you are listening please feel free to make use of whatever method of meditation you have practiced before. When the Citta is calm, you will naturally receive the taste of Dhamma, each according to his own level of practice.

The Buddhist religion which we profess today is the Dhamma to which the Buddha had attained. His name was the Samana Gotama and he searched for and practiced many ways which he saw would bring him to the attainment of the Saccadhamma (truth) which was what he wanted.

The word "Dhamma" means the teaching of a Buddha, which is a new Dhamma and a new era that follows upon the Enlightenment of each buddha and the teaching which he gives to the world. Truly speaking, the "real Dhamma" is always in the world right from the beginning. But this real, original Dhamma is never touched by that which is conventional or mundane (Sammuti), even though it is always in contact with the heart. But although these forms of Dhamma are always present in the world, it is we who lack the ability to see them.

What sort of thing is "Dhamma"? There is Dhamma as cause and Dhamma as result, and because of this people are led to think in all sorts of ways until they have almost nothing to do with Dhamma or religion.

The word "Sasana" means teaching — the teaching which arose as the result of those practices done by the Buddha in searching for knowledge and truth, until he found it. Because he searched in the right way and because he attained results which satisfied his heart, he proclaimed this teaching to the world of those who were suited to receive the Sasana Dhamma — this being the training and teaching of Buddhism.

Teaching Dhamma to a world full of blindness so that it would come to know the truth was very difficult for the Teacher — it was no light task. Before he proclaimed his teaching to the world, men already had various thoughts and ideas, the majority of which were contradictory to the Dhamma. Teaching was therefore very difficult, and being one of the "Great teachers of the World" was to be one who takes a great burden on himself. Few are the men, therefore, who wish to become a Buddha because ordinary men, unlike a Buddha, do not want any difficulties or burdens in teaching the world.

There is no one who can teach as correctly or as accurately as the Buddha taught his Teaching to the people of the world, so he was given the name of "The Highest Teacher in the World." There is none comparable to the Buddha because he is superior to all human beings. His teaching is fully complete in both cause and effect. Nothing is missing from the teachings which he taught to all beings.

With regards to Dhamma, he explained wholesome (Kusala) and unwholesome (Akusala), and neither wholesome nor unwholesome (Abyakata) Dhamma. These Dhammas are Svakkhata Dhamma — Dhammas which are well-explained. The essence of this Dhamma is in the Eightfold Path, which is the Middle Way. If we were to compare the Middle Way to food, its taste would be delicious, for it would not be too salty, too tasteless, or too spicy. If we were to compare it to clothes, it would be well cut and tailored to fit the person wearing it. It would not be like inexpensive clothes which are mass-produced. Dhamma teaching is therefore the Middle Way which is appropriate in both its causes and its effects from the beginning to the end.

It is not only Dhamma that is the Middle Way, but the things that one depends on in the world. If one tried to do everything in the Middle Way, it would be something worth seeing, worth admiring, worth living in and making use of. Those men and women, monks and novices who practice the Dhamma of the Middle Way would be lovely and would be persons worthy of respect. Both the world and the Dhamma would be cool and quiet and it would be a good world to live in. There would be no complaining that "the world is in trouble," "we are in trouble," "he is in trouble," as is heard at present.

Everything is burning with trouble and we practically have no world left to live in. This is because people do not take into consideration the principles of Dhamma which are correct and good. A world divorced from Dhamma, that is, goodness, is therefore a world which is contrary to Dhamma, people are contrary to Dhamma and this contrariness to Dhamma has the power to produce endless worry and confusion. If we refuse to see faults and if we refuse to stop this opposition to Dhamma, this world will continue to experience Dukkha.

Magga means the path, which the Buddha declared using the principles of the Middle Way. It is therefore the only path which always leads straight and steadfastly to Vimutti (freedom). It is never outdated, never having to be altered or changed in any way to keep up with changing situations and changing times. Even if everything should go on changing until they turn and turn about, the Dhamma of the Middle Way (Majjhima Dhamma) will still be the Dhamma which is always consistent. If we liken it to a medicine, it would be a medicine which doctors have already experimented with and proven the worth of and which is being used to cure disease. All Dhammas have already been completely tried and proven by the Buddha and there is no reason for doubting or being sceptical about them, for the proving of these Dhammas resulted in the enlightenment of the Buddha. Furthermore, all of the Buddha's disciples also attained the field of Vimutti by means of these Dhammas in the same way.

We have come together today to train our minds to be calm and cool. The normal state of the mind is such that it has no Middle Way. It continually tends to go to extremes of thinking and imagining and its moods, which are connected with work and duty, are in confusion. Or, in other words, what the heart is used to and likes leads it away from what it should be doing. We must therefore make use of the Dhamma principles of the Buddha as a means to train the Citta to be calm — and however much or little one does this, it will not be without result.

Whoever makes use of any method of meditation, as, for example, paying attention to one's breath (Anapanasati) or the repetition (Parikamma) of "Buddho," "Dhammo," or "Sangho," should have mindfulness to control the Citta. The Citta should not be allowed to wander, for if it does one will not get results and the Citta will not get calm. In the Dhamma it says "Natthi santi param sukham," which means "there is no happiness greater than peace" and this shows that the heart must be peaceful or calm to attain happiness, so we should try to make the heart calm. The Citta which is not calm will tend to be agitated continually and even when it is asleep it dreams of all sorts of things. If one's Citta thinks a lot it will create fantastic dreams and talking in one's sleep, for if one's sleep is not deep, dreaming will occur whereas a deep sleep is a sleep without dreams. So one trains to make the Citta calm down, but whether the Citta becomes calm and to what degree will depend on the ability of each person. If the Citta is very calm, there will be a great deal of happiness and this is the first step of the training.

The value of the mind will then be apparent to the owner so that he can admire it at that time while it is peaceful, because there is nothing of greater value than a quiet mind. I would ask you to make your minds steadily overcome the difficulties and laziness, which are things that usually overcome us the whole time. We believe that we cannot overcome them because we have seen their power, but if we think we are able to fight them, and if we really do fight them, then the time will arrive when we do overcome them. We still hear of victories in regard to such things as sports and such like, but with regard to Kilesas (defilements) we only hear of giving in to them. Perhaps this is because we fall on our faces before the Kilesas and let them walk all over our backs.

This religion shook the world because it was tested and proven by those whose hearts are pure. The Enlightenment of the Buddha shook his heart, that is, it shook the Kilesas in his heart just as if this world itself were shaken.

Even though we have never seen or experienced any results from this religion, we will surprise ourselves when the Citta becomes calm because this initial training will greatly move the heart when the Citta and Dhamma come together in unreserved completeness of the Citta and of Dhamma.

The word religion (Sasana) is not a trifling matter. It exists with everyone of us and is not just a thing of this person or that person, and it does not just belong to the Buddha. He taught us so that we would be good people and have worth appropriate to a human being. He taught that the virtue and value which comes from the religion is one's own wealth right up to the Path, Fruition, and Nibbana. This lies within the reach of each Buddhist who resolves to practice, and he can be one who possesses and savors the results of it endlessly. There is no finish or end as there is with other forms of wealth which are impermanent (Aniccam), unsatisfactory (Dukkham), and not-self (Anatta), and which someone has grabbed.

Therefore, Buddhism belongs to each of us and not only to this or that ethnic group, class or caste.

This is enough for today. I would now like to ask Ven. Paññavaddho to explain what he can remember.

Questions and Answers

Q1 M1:

What is the Citta? Is it not attention?


In the four Iddhipada (Paths of Accomplishment), "Citta" is attention and when it is combined with recollecting, it becomes mindfulness (Sati). Citta likes to go wherever it pleases and in whatever the Citta does, it is not afraid of doing wrong, nor is it afraid of danger. If mindfulness does not restrain it, it may stray and go for unchecked pleasure seeking. To make an analogy, the Citta is like an animal and mindfulness is like the person who trains and controls it. If the Citta which is possessed by Kilesas is trained and controlled by mindfulness, it will slowly become disciplined and the Kilesas can then be eradicated. When it is also accompanied by wisdom (Pañña) to investigate and extract the Kilesas, the Citta will become clearer and brighter and when the Citta becomes brighter and brighter, one will discover that the Citta is becoming more and more subtle and that it has more strength and power. The Citta can become pure through the practice of meditation, but one cannot understand the Citta merely by reading books, for one can only come to know the real Citta by practicing the way. Then one will gradually come to see the true nature of the Citta a little more each time until one sees it clearly and all doubts vanish. Practice is therefore extremely important if one wants to know the Citta, because one can come to know the real Citta absolutely clearly and eliminate all doubts by means of practice. There is no other way in which one can come to know.

Q2 W1:

People in England study Buddhism from books. They do not know that there is a Citta and Buddhism is not taught here according to the Satipatthana Sutta. The result is that people are led to understand that the Citta is mindfulness and wisdom. I therefore think it necessary for Ven. Paññavaddho to have the Venerable Acharn give us some understanding of the Citta.

Ven Paññavaddho to the Venerable Acharn in Thai:

People in this country understand "Citta" to mean thinking and that the Citta is divided into those forms of the Citta which come from seeing, hearing, — touching; in other words "consciousness" (Viññana).


That aspect of the Citta which arises when something comes into contact with eyes, ears, nose, etc., and which knows and receives that contact is called "consciousness" (Viññana). It arises and ceases together with that contact. As for the Citta which waits and knows these things, it does not cease together with the consciousness when it ceases, it does not cease even though the body ceases, for it will go on and take rebirth in the future. There is no end to it if the "sap of the heart" which is the Kilesas and Ignorance (Avijja) are still in the heart. But when this "sap" which is the Kilesas, has been removed from the heart, there is an end to continual becoming and birth, as happened with the Buddha and his arahant disciples.

Q3 M1:

This "one who knows" which we call our selves, is not this "Atta"? Or is it not-self (Anatta)?


If we compare the "one who knows" with stairs, such as the ones used to reach this room, then we will still have to take hold of them as "self" and let go of each step one after the other until we reach this room, which is our purpose. If at the beginning we do not cling to the self, we can go widely off course because we have not got any basis to hold on to. We have to make use of the self as the way which will lead us to the state of not clinging to self. Therefore, at this stage, we should not go thinking about self and not-self (Atta and Anatta). We must at first make use of self before we can reach our goal. The question of Atta, Anatta, and the Citta will be dropped of itself, just as happened when we climbed the staircase until we reached this room, when the problem of us and the staircase vanished of its own accord.

Q4 M2:

When we compare the Citta to the stairs, must we let go of the Citta in the same way we let go of the stairs when we reached the last step?


When we have trained the Citta, we win to different levels and we let go of each level until we reach the last step. It then stops by itself and we do not have to force it. If one is going to do this, one must reach the level of "super-mindfulness" (Maha-Sati) and "super-wisdom" (Maha-Pañña) because this is the level which is suitable for letting go of the conventional world (Sammuti) in all its aspects. From that point on there is no more attachment or clinging in the Citta.

Q5 W2:

What are some of the benefits of meditation?


One become calm. The heart is cool, peaceful, completely rational and self-controlled. One does not do anything which follows one's desires and which is contrary to reason. One will always consider what is good and what is bad, both for oneself and others. It makes one become a person who does not feel the Dukkha of gloominess always in his heart. The heart will have a basic6 principle and will not drift about aimlessly as it used to. It is like a man who has a job as his basic principle or who has food and a house to live in and depend on. Such a person is not troubled.

Q6 W2:

How does one train oneself in meditation?


One can use the method of Anapanasati or the method of repeating "Buddho Dhammo or Sangho." It depends on the nature of each person. The various methods of meditation will all bring calm to the heart, and even if one uses the word "death" as the preparatory repetition, this is also training the heart, for it is important that the Citta gets a feeling of sorrow and weariness of itself.7 It will then see the evil in those things which the heart clings to, things which one loves or likes.

Why, when we train the Citta, do we fix the Citta on only this or that object? In fixing the Citta on the breath, one should know the breath as it goes in and out at the nose all the time, but this is not a breathing exercise. This is like using bait to catch a fish — what one wants to catch is the fish. Or, if we make a simile of the Citta of someone who has not yet been trained, his Citta will be scattered in various places, like a fish net which has been cast into the water and spreads out wide until one can no longer see what it looks like. If we are going to know the Citta, we will have to take hold of the leader, that is, the string on the net which one uses to draw it together. When we pull on the leader, the rest of the net comes together until we can see it and hold it in our hands.

The Citta is where we ourselves are. We are the owners of the Citta, but we cannot force it to become whatever we want it to be. We assume that form (Rupa), memory (Sañña), feeling (Vedana), thoughts (Sankhara) and consciousness (Viññana) are the Citta, but in reality, these aggregates can all be separated from each other, and we can begin to see this when we practice. Then we will be able to promote the Citta so that it improves or deteriorates. When we have practiced we will gradually see that the Citta is the "Lord of Birth and Death." If we make merit, practice generosity, guard our moral precepts and practice meditation, we promote the Citta so that it improves — it becomes brighter and is raised to a higher level. But if we follow our desires and are not afraid of demerit and unwholesomeness the Citta will do whatever it likes. Not being controlled, the Citta will deteriorate and meet with nothing but Dukkha. Even in the present (right now), when we are downhearted and we do not know what to do, we let go and are then besieged by Dukkha even though we are aware of it, and because people do not know how to change Dukkha into happiness the world experiences Dukkha, which is just what it does not want.

The Citta which has been trained, which is freed from defilements and which is pure must still depend on the aggregates while they are alive. But the duty and work of one whose Citta is pure will only be for the good of the world. This pure Citta is called "arahant" or "arahat." The person who is an arahant has a Citta which is entirely pure in all respects. His Citta is completely free from anything which will cause it to be born again and it will encounter happiness which is entirely satisfying while there is still life. When he dies, it has absolute bliss and it has no Dukkha, nor any involvement with the mundane, relative world (Sammuti).

Thus there is a saying of the Buddha which states "Nibbanam Paramam Suññam" which means "Nibbana is entirely empty" — of all Dukkha. But it does not mean that when one has attained Nibbana there is nothing left, as the world understands "emptiness" to mean. But one also does not "exist" in the way that the world exists. In other words, the happiness of Nibbana is happiness specific to Nibbana without any of the mundane conventions (and the pure Citta still "is"). If the Citta still wears the form of the aggregates when the defilements have been completely eradicated, it means that it has attained to freedom.

Freedom (Vimutti) and the mundane world (Sammuti) are very different from each other. It is difficult to compare the world of Sammuti which has mundane conventions, with what has not — which is Vimutti. Buddhism has the purpose of teaching us to make our Citta pure so that we can experience the sublime happiness of Vimutti.

Q7 W3:

Yesterday Ven. Paññavaddho said that we must use energy in practicing meditation. Today you are talking about recollecting which has to do with the brain. I understand then that Citta means energy and brain — is that correct?

Ven. Paññavaddho to the Venerable Acharn in Thai:

Two or three days ago I explained that one must use energy in meditation practice. I also explained that if one is too intense the mind will be in turmoil and that one must make a mental note of it.


In learning about and practicing the Dhamma of the Buddha, we must gradually use more and more mindfulness and wisdom from the very first stage of the training until one reaches the level of super- mindfulness (Maha-Pañña). One studies and practices meditation because one wants to make the Citta calm for the peaceful Citta is of great worth. Then even if one sleeps deeply, when one wakes, the Citta is still bright. But one does not always sleep soundly and usually one sleeps badly, and dreams and talks in one's sleep, then one wakes up feeling dull and sleepy. In sound sleep the Citta drops into the state of Bhavanga,8 the place of deep sleep, where dreaming does not occur, after which the aggregates are rested and energetic and the Citta is cheerful.

By entering Samadhi, the Citta can become completely quiet. The heart is then naturally happy and becomes strong so that in reading, thinking or doing other various jobs, the Citta will be clear and relaxed and when thinking it will be able to see through things more clearly than usual. Therefore, training the Citta by way of either Samadhi or wisdom in accordance with the principles of Buddhism is a good way to help one in one's work, for it does no harm to one's work which is contrary to what people generally understand, even though those who think like this are only nominally believers and know nothing about Buddhism.

Therefore in working with perseverance so as to get results one must use hard work and determination, but these must be used differently in different cases. If one wants to attain calm one must use determination to aim for a single spot, in other words one must quell mental distraction. But if one is going to contemplate so as to know the Dhamma truths (Sacca Dhamma) one must use hard work, determination in observing and develop understanding in the Dhamma from various viewpoints. If, on the other hand, one is aiming for the arising of wisdom, one must use hard work and determination in the investigation of causes and their effects in various ways.

Q8 W4:

If one works and is tired and the mind is very distracted and dull, should one sleep or should one practice meditation?


You should sleep, but this depends on circumstances. If it will help the Citta to be calm and help one to sleep well, then one should also practice meditation. When one practices until sleep comes, then the Citta will be peaceful and the body can rest. But one should not stop using one's usual method of practice if there is enough time to do it.

Third Meeting [go to top]

Tuesday, 11th June 1974

Questions and Answers

Q1 W1:

I have read one of the Venerable Acharn's books and came across the terms "Cittavimutti" and "Buddhavimutti." What do they mean?


"Cittavimutti" is the term generally used for whatever Citta has freed itself from the Kilesas and become an arahant. "Buddhavimutti" is the term which is used only in referring to the Citta of the Buddha. They both mean that the Citta is pure.

Q2 W1:

I have read in a book that there are six consciousnesses (Viññana), that is, contact of the six external sense-objects (Ayatana) with the six internal sense-bases (Ayatana), and that there is a seventh consciousness. What is this other one?


The six consciousnesses are the six external sense-objects coming in contact with eyes, ears, nose, etc., and then "knowing" — in other words, one knows that this or that thing has come in contact — this is the characteristic of the Citta. The seventh consciousness is "Patisandhi-Viññana" which does not become aware of anything, but takes birth (Patisandhi)9 in a plane which is high or low, at such-and-such a time and place, depending on the causes which lead it on which are in the Citta. There is therefore a new birth, or re-birth.

The Buddha taught us about the six consciousnesses so that we would not cling to things which we see and know, and so that we would know that they just arise and fall away and that there is no permanent essence in them. When we can supervise them, we will be able to see the seventh Viññana more clearly. There is only one form of this consciousness, and it is "Eka Viññana." To make an analogy, it is like the trunk of a tree and this is the part that matters when we want to make use of a tree. The other six consciousnesses are then like the branches and twigs which we cannot make much use of. We should therefore keep this in mind and take an interest in contemplating the "one Citta" (Eka Citta) which will take birth. One should also try to look after the Citta and make it clean, and raise it as high as one can in accordance with one's own level which one has gained from doing practice.

Q3 M1:

Viññana means "one who knows" and Patisandhi-Viññana means the Citta which is covered with both wholesomeness and unwholesomeness (Kusala and Akusala), and which takes rebirth. Then, to make an analogy, if one builds a house, it is better to be interested in the most important part of the house rather than the little insignificant things outside. Is looking at it in this way correct?


That is correct, but one must contemplate the things that are connected with the Citta until one understands them, and lets go of them. Contemplate them in conjunction with the Citta which is the chief — the important one — until one understands both those things that are small and those that are great. Then contemplate all round in all aspects.

Q4 M2:

The Citta is the one which knows generally when one thinks over there or thinks here, and it brings these things together as Sankharas (compounded things) which are Aniccam (impermanent). But yesterday the Venerable Acharn said that the Citta exists, that it is permanent. Would you please explain more about this?


The Citta, generally, of the ordinary man is impermanent, and it is permeated with mundane conventions. All things in the world which are mundane naturally come under the three characteristics of existence, which are impermanence (Aniccam), discontent (Dukkham), and not-self (Anatta). The Citta of the ordinary man still comes in this category, that is, it must change according to what is wholesome and unwholesome which leads to rebirth. The Citta which does not change, which is permanent, is the Citta which is pure, which has attained to the state of arahantship. It no longer has impermanence, discontent, and not-self permeating it like the Citta of the ordinary man.

An explanation such as this is theoretical knowledge (Pariyatti), and it might lead to endless argument if one has not practiced. But going on talking about and discussing it will not bring benefit. If one practices and comes to see the truth of Dhamma for oneself, reading, listening, and discussing leads to understanding. But if that person has not practiced accordingly it will just go in the direction of argument. Because the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha has levels which are gross, middle, or subtle and it is better to speak about those things which will be valuable.

What can be obtained from reading and what can be obtained from practice are quite different from each other, because remembering what one has read is quite different from the truth that has been experienced from practice. Even when other people speak of the results from their practice it is difficult for one to understand them until one has practiced and experienced more with one's heart. Then one's doubts will clear up of themselves.

Q5 M2:

Is there any way to eradicate anger from oneself?


In the Abhidhamma, it is said that anger is the "Dosa root."10 If I explain it to you, you will understand my explanation well enough, but actually getting rid of the root of anger is very difficult. One must rely on practice as the main thing because extracting the Kilesas must be done by means of the truth which comes from true practice. One cannot extract them with what comes from one's ability to remember what one has learned — which can be remembered well enough by anybody who learns — for the Kilesas are not afraid of this and they will still be there as they were before.

Anything which enters and associates with us — whichever type of character we may have from amongst those which people have — is connected with and concerns us from then on. If we practice and try to eliminate the Kilesas, then eliminate them we can, for there were and are arahants who were once very angry men. We are common people who only know and understand this, but we do not yet have the ability to eliminate the root of anger. We must train the Citta to know how bad a fault hate (Dosa) is, then it will go by itself. If we try to get rid of it by just wanting it to go, we will not succeed. We must depend on practice and then we will see results coming steadily, which is called the right kind of meditation and suitable for the removal of that kind of Kilesa.

Please understand that the Kilesas are not afraid of only remembering their names. Even though we remember everything about them in great detail, they still remain Kilesas which govern the hearts of beings in the world. They do not think about removing themselves to another place, unless one practices meditation (Citta Bhavana) and develops mindfulness and wisdom so as to be bold and strong enough to be able to drive them out. Then the time comes when they will break and scatter from the heart without any doubt, like the Buddha and all his disciples who eliminated the Kilesas by means of practice. The methods they used have been taught to the world down to the present day.

I will explain sitting meditation. Why did the Buddha sit cross- legged in meditation? If one looks at it only superficially, sitting in that position is not very important and one can sit in any position that one wants. But if one is going to sit for hours, then one should sit cross-legged because the pressure due to the weight of the body will be evenly distributed. When it becomes painful, the pain will be spread out and it will not be excessively painful in any one spot. If one sits for a very long time, then it may become very painful, because sitting in meditation is extremely important work for those who are determined to get real results and they may sit for a long time, even for many hours. If they become too worried or anxious about their bodies, then the Citta will be weak. This will be dependent on the Dukkha of the body.

It is important to make the Citta one's goal. Let the Citta do the work that is set for it, and have mindfulness in control of the Citta while meditating so that it does not wander outside thinking about this or that. The Citta which is always controlled by mindfulness will remain with oneself. It will be calm and will be clearly aware. The more one has mindfulness with the Citta, however good it may be, the clearer the Citta will be. One must therefore not allow the Citta to wander, or to be distracted.

Q6 M3:

A meditation teacher by the name of Alakamala has said that if we fix the Citta into a thing, we cannot attain to Vimutti. Why is this?


Because things are things, not Vimutti. How can the Citta then reach Vimutti? We contemplate things not to get them, but to know them and to let go of them.

Concerning the Path of the arahant (Arahattamagga) and Fruition (Arahattaphala), and speaking of mindfulness and wisdom as well, if one makes use only of mindfulness and does not make use of wisdom, one will not get results that are desirable. If one is going to be able to eliminate the Kilesas entirely, one must make complete use of mindfulness and wisdom — which are like tools. In making use of tools, one must know what to use with what, the way to use them and how. There can be a lot of mindfulness it is true, but people are deficient in doing what is their duty because they do not use wisdom as they ought to. The end result of this is that the full state that should arise does not. Being deficient in what is one's duty is not a good thing so the result one gets is not complete. Therefore one who learns about the Middle Way should always take into consideration what is sufficient — which is appropriate to the name of "Dhamma" — which is the Middle Way (Majjhima) that one has learned.

Q7 M3:

Must we practice meditation to get a balance?


Practice meditation and see for yourself what is lacking. One should then develop the Five Indriya (faculties): Saddha (faith or confidence), Viriya (energy), Sati (mindfulness), Samadhi (concentration), and Pañña (wisdom) within oneself.

When light falls on the surface of an object, the top of that object is illuminated while its underside is in shadow and dark. Wisdom is like the light which can truly penetrate, but what it penetrates is the Kilesas which cover the heart, so that there is not any shadow in the heart where Kilesas can hide or conceal themselves. This means that wisdom is powerful and able to investigate circumspectly throughout the darkness of all the Kilesas with ease and confidence until the Citta has reached ultimate Vimutti (Liberation).

Q8 (Ven. Paññavaddho): Does this mean that we should carefully examine the five Indriya? If wisdom is strong it will penetrate throughout, like a light which shines completely through an object from top to bottom so that there is no shadow, which is Avijja (Ignorance), left at all. Is that correct?


Cittavimutti is the completely pure Citta which has no shadow, for it is bright in all respects. If there is still some shadow remaining, one can call that shadow Avijja. The important thing is, that for the Citta to become pure all the Kilesas must be completely eradicated.

Q9 W2:

I would like to know what the Citta is?


The Citta is "the one who knows." The true Citta has only one function, and that is "knowing." The Buddha always said that the original true Citta is clear, bright, and resplendent, but that Kilesas have become mixed or blended with it and so it follows the way of these Kilesas and has become murky. One must rely on mindfulness, wisdom, and perseverance to clean the Citta. When the Citta has gone beyond the state of clarity and brightness it will be pure, which means that it will have attained to the state of Vimutti.

The word "brightness" (Pabhassara) refers here to the state of Vatta Citta11 which is different from Vivatta Citta. In other words Pabhassara is "clarity and brightness," but is not yet the state of purity. The brightness which comes from practice is due to the Kilesas gathering together in just one spot. When the brightness which is the most subtle of the Kilesas has been passed by (overcome) by the cleansing process of super-mindfulness (Maha-Sati) and super-wisdom (Maha-Pañña), then the Citta is pure.12

Q10 M4:

How does one guard the Citta so as to keep it inside oneself?


In wanting to know about the Citta, we must practice meditation to make the Citta calm. Wisdom can be made use of both internally and externally, but if wisdom is to arise and be astute, the Citta must be calm. If the Citta is calm, then we can know the characteristics of our own Citta. We should try to maintain the calm of the Citta for as long as possible and then we will build a firm basis for ourselves and become skilled so that we will be able to make the Citta calm whenever we want. The calm Citta will become continually brighter and brighter and it will know what Kilesas are present, and will have wisdom to eliminate and extract them. The Citta will then become still brighter until it can drive out the Kilesas by means of wisdom. This is the first step.

Kilesas are coarse, medium, and subtle and the "knowing" which is formed out of these Kilesas is not the real Citta but only the characteristics of the Citta. We must use wisdom to follow and remove these Kilesas at all three levels and when we have done this until the Citta does not change, is not sad, or downhearted, and has none of the characteristics of the Citta which is covered by the Kilesas at all, this Citta will know that there are no causes left for rebirth in the future (Patisandhi). The Citta is then pure and need not take birth again.

The Citta which has the germ of goodness and badness within it can be compared to a seed which can grow and which has the germ of life or the potential for development in it. This kind of Citta will therefore be born, die, and be born again and again according to the causes which it has itself made — good and bad variously. As for the Citta which is pure, it is constant (unchanging) and the germ of rebirth is no longer present.

Regardless of whether one believes that after death there is nothing more, or that after death there is still something, if the Citta has the germs of goodness and badness present in it, it will be born again endlessly but if the Citta is pure and has no such germs, it will not be born. This is the way of it, but the permanence (unchangingness) of the pure Citta is not the same as the world understands "permanence" to mean, so there is nobody who can understand the permanence of the pure Citta correctly except the arahants alone.

The Buddha practiced until he saw truly for himself. He did not make any wild guesses or just think about it as we do. Therefore the Buddha's Dhamma is absolutely correct and we can have absolute confidence in it.

If we cannot yet attain to the level of the pure Citta then we should persist in doing what is good so that in whatever way this Citta is born it may be a good way. This will lead to development, and is far better than clinging to doubt and uncertainty which obstructs our way so that we live in vain without gaining anything useful, for it only sets up a barrier so that we are swept away or pushed down into the mass of the round (Vatta) of Dukkha.

Q11 M5:

Must one be born a human being in order to attain Enlightenment?


Other beings do not have mindfulness and wisdom. Human beings have a lot of mindfulness and wisdom, but they must also have more than a normal amount of perseverance and energy before they can be enlightened and, therefore, not all human beings will be able to attain Enlightenment. Those who are born in the five Pure Abodes of the Brahma world will be able to attain the highest level of Dhamma with much greater certainty than the majority of human beings. If human beings do not make an effort to do good, they are likely to do things which bring them to a lower level. There are four groups of human beings (which can be compared to four lotuses):

  1. That group of people who are full of good characteristics and will soon attain Enlightenment when they get the right method of Dhamma.

  2. This second group will come after the first and they will also attain Dhamma gradually. They can be compared to those who are sick but who will be cured if given the proper medicine.

  3. This third group needs to be taught many many times before understanding will occur. They must practice regularly in order to be able to attain. If one compares this group to a patient; there is a way for him to be cured if he comes by the right medicine, and there is a way in which he can die if he is careless and likes to eat those things which are harmful to himself and which nullify the medicine's cure.

  4. This last group is least in everything that is good. But if it is evil they will fight to their last breath without giving up, because they are blind to everything so they do not know the fear of Dukkha.

The Citta is like all other things — trees, children, etc; it needs nourishment so that it will grow and develop. The Citta, however, has to depend on its owner for the way it is nourished, so it will develop accordingly.

The Venerable Acharn's Talk

I am very pleased to be able to come here and answer your questions, but I am afraid that my stay here will be rather short, as I cannot remain very long due to the many duties which I have waiting for me in Thailand. Thailand is about 80-90% Buddhist and I have much to do in the way of meeting the people and my followers. It was necessary for me to prepare my work about three or four months in advance before I could actually come to England, and it is necessary that I return home quickly because of the many people waiting there. I am very pleased to have been received by our English brothers and sisters and I would like to come to England once again, but Aniccam, Dukkham, and Anatta make it impossible for us to be sure that we will have the opportunity of doing so. I hope that the Dhamma we have discussed here today will enable you to get the important "essence" (Sara) which will help you in your future practice.

Ven. Paññavaddho has been in Thailand for twelve years and he speaks and understands Thai fluently. During that time I have tried to learn English from him, but I never really succeeded in learning it, so I am unable to speak to you in English during my stay here. I must have Ven. Paññavaddho translate for me.

Q12 M3:

The Venerable Acharn has had a chance to see the city of London, to see that it is a large and bustling city. I would like to ask if people can practice meditation in a city like this?


Only the dead cannot practice meditation. As long as we are still alive, we will have the opportunity to practice meditation because we will have both times when we are busy and times when we are free. We are not burdened all the time. In speaking about human cities or countries, all of them are cities or countries of people who have mouths and stomachs and they have to run about busily finding remedies which they want for making up the deficiencies in their bodily well being, and there is bound to be restless confusion and milling about in the same way everywhere. No matter what house or country one goes to they are all running around busily in the same way all over the world because making a living compels them to be like this. The only place where things are not busy is in a graveyard, the houses of the dead, but who would want to live in an un-busy place like that! Even animals do not want to go there. Therefore, when we want to live in a bustling city like this, we must bear it because necessity forces us to do so as we know and see everywhere in the world of men and animals with mouths to feed who struggle to survive.

Fourth Meeting [go to top]

Wednesday, 12th June 1974

Questions and Answers

Q1 M1:

Yesterday you said that to get rid of anger was difficult, but that you would speak about it so that we would understand it well enough. Please would you explain it further today.


Try and see the fault of anger, then you will be able to drive it away. When other people show that they are angry with you, you do not like it and you see it as bad; and when you are angry with others your behavior and attitude is bad and the results which come from it are bad. But it is probable that you will not feel in yourself that it is bad.

Usually if one knows that something is bad and dangerous to oneself, in the future one will not do it; but if one thinks that it is good, or if one does not consider the fault of it and one goes on doing it because one gives way to the emotion of anger, one will not be able to get rid of anger. In fact this will only increase one's anger and make it stronger so that it will constantly harass oneself and bring trouble and harm to others.

Q2 M2:

Sometimes, is it not appropriate for one to show some anger?


Anger is "hot" but people tend to think that it is good and they like displaying it. If anybody does anything against one's wishes one becomes angry and if one does not control one's emotions they get stronger and stronger. Have you never felt sometimes that you get angry with yourself because you do something which does not keep up with the speed of your own mind? The feeling of anger makes one troubled (hot), not calm and cool, and the characteristics that display anger are not pleasant to see. Letting go and allowing anger to arise continually without in any way trying to quell it or get rid of it leads to it becoming part of one's character and because this is an increasing tendency, from where will one get peace of heart? If anger was a fertilizer that one puts round a tree, one should be angry when one wants fertilizer for the tree. But if one cannot use it in place of fertilizer, or as a fertilizer, yet one still likes to get angry, it is not appropriate.

Q3 M2:

If one has been treated unjustly, as for instance, if one is blamed when one has done nothing wrong, what should one do?


You should act appropriately with reason. The Lord said that to act in any way which is led by greed, hate or delusion is bad. Again, if others do what is wrong and you are in the right and good, then you let go of your mad emotions and do to them what is bad, then having been good you will become bad also — which is a bad thing for all people who are concerned about virtue. If you want to be a good person you must hold back and refrain from anger. Search and think out a way that is suitable for you to act towards whoever has done wrong to you without acting in such a way that other people would see you letting go and becoming a bad person in the same way as the party who has done wrong to you.

Q4 M2:

If one is angry and does not show it the other party may not be aware that one is angry. Should one not therefore react to what they are doing with a show of anger so that they do not act in that way again?


Displaying anger is not a good thing and you should think out and look for a good way of talking together in terms of causes and effects — then you can attain valuable results without arousing anything blameworthy following from the initial trouble. If there is discussion without the emotion of anger you do not bring madness into your speech and the other party will understand and be able to accept and agree to do what you want willingly. The incident will then improve and not flare up and get worse — like using clean water to wash some dirty things — you can wash them clean and not make them more and more dirty. Displaying a demonic face, as you mentioned, is not human, for you become demonic as well.

Q5 M3:

If one does not show any reaction, how will one be able to restrain oneself?


If you restrain your heart you can restrain yourself. But generally people do not restrain themselves and they like to let go their emotions. Scarcely anybody is interested in patiently retraining their own anger.

You must examine yourself thus: "What is it that I like or dislike? That which the other party does to me makes me angry and I restrain myself and do not display any abnormal behavior. I investigate so as to correct myself by thinking of the way they feel so as to find out if I have done anything that would make them angry. I cannot recall anything that I may have done so if they are in the wrong I am not in the wrong, they make a show of anger but I do not, their heart is troubled (hot) within them and other people will see for themselves that they are bad, but I do nothing bad." Because you do not show any reaction by answering them back you increasingly become an admirable person. But nobody admires a person who gets angry, saying that he is good because he is clever at getting angry. When one gets angry with someone, who is going to admire this and say that one is good because one can get angry and because one has got angry with this person? Anger is not a good thing, and people everywhere in the world are afraid of it and tired of it. Even animals recognize anger and quickly try to avoid it and hide from it. They are afraid of anger which is a poison more harmful than fire. Anger should therefore not be encouraged — in fact one should look for a way to quench it until there is none left.

Q6 W1:

Why is it that when one meets some people for the first time one immediately feels that one likes them or dislikes them, even though they have not yet done anything to one?


Anyone who is not dead is likely to have such feelings. Therefore it is normal when one sees anything, to have feelings of liking or disliking and there is nothing harmful in this, because the nature of people who have Kilesas is generally speaking like this throughout the world. As long as one does not show it outwardly, it will be almost as if nothing has happened.

Q7 M2:

Is it better to immediately throw off the dislike for someone or to develop friendly feelings (Metta) towards them?


If you can throw off the dislike, this is good, or if you can develop Metta towards them it is also good, but generally people do neither for they go and do things that they should not do.

If one feels anger for anyone and one dislikes them, and if one sees the fault as being in oneself, seeing that it makes one uneasy in one's heart, one will get rid of that feeling entirely. Therefore to go straight to the point one must before all else examine one's own faults or the faults which will arise or have arisen in oneself, then get rid of that feeling entirely.

When one begins to practice this form of Dhamma at first one does not understand oneself, one only has feelings about external things and one has likes and dislikes. One begins to observe other people and one sees how angry people display the characteristics of anger and one does not like it. So then one tries not to produce such characteristics towards other people. Acting in this way one begins to understand one's own Citta. When one does this often one's awareness will arise more quickly and awareness of oneself and one's Citta will also arise more quickly, so that as soon as one is the recipient of someone else's display of anger, in whatever way it may come about, one knows oneself and one can quell one's emotions. In this way one can get rid of one's defilements (Kilesas) little by little and reduce the Dukkha and anxiety in one's own heart.

Being dissatisfied with anything is nothing but Dukkha, which accords with the Dhamma that the Lord taught, but we generally oppose Dhamma — being that which is right, good, and proper — so we generally find Dukkha all the time without feeling any dread of it; and not being in dread of it leads us to encounter Dukkha again and again.

Q8 W2:

How should one correct the anxiety and agitation that one experiences due to an excessive concern for other people?


Whatever you do or feel to excess is bad and it is a cause of Dukkha. If you are bound to be responsible for someone in a given situation and you think about it circumspectly, trying to think out and correct any problems which may arise and normally not thinking anything beyond what is happening in the present, it will be enough to calm, quell and prevent the agitation or anxiety for that person increasing excessively. The word "excessive" should be understood to mean "that which is beyond what is sufficient," and this always causes nothing but Dukkha.

In addition, those who are concerned with reasoning about the basic meanings of Dhamma should always be wary of this.

Q9 M3:

When dislike arises should one use the same method to get rid of it that the Ven. Acharn said should be used to get rid of anger?


Yes, do it by whatever method gets rid of the disliking. Whichever method it is, it will probably be correct for this purpose.

Q10 M2:

(This question was virtually the same as question 9.)


At this time we have spoken about liking and disliking because they have arisen in our discussion and they should be cured in whatever way they can be cured. But we have not yet got as far as speaking about Kamma and the results of Kamma (Vipaka).

Q11 W3:

In doing Samadhi practice by walking Cankama, how should one go about doing it correctly?


Tan Acharn Mun suggested that there are two factors which should be adhered to:

  1. Walking from east to West, or walking at an angle to the East- West line (so that the sun does not get in one's eyes).

  2. One sets the Citta to do work of one kind or another and then one watches the Citta to make sure that it only does that work, and one prevents it from getting distracted and going elsewhere.

One must look on that work as being the object of one's attention (Arammana). For example, one method is to take the raising and lowering of one's feet as this object while walking, in which case one must do just this, because this is the work that one has set the Citta to do. If one uses any other method one will have the corresponding object upon which to fix one's attention.

When contemplating Dhamma one should go on until one comes to the end of that aspect of Dhamma that one is contemplating and one should have mindfulness associated with it in every bodily action and position.

The various forms of practicing this Dhamma do not in fact conflict with each other. But a person who practices is likely to be prejudiced and to see his own methods as being right and other people's methods as having no value, so then quarrels start, or they boastfully say "Whose is the better way? It is better to do it our way." Another person who takes it up and uses that method may find it unsuitable to him and it can be wrong and unsatisfactory. When one takes up and for some time practices a method using which other people have practiced and gained good results, it can happen that one gets no good results for oneself. Therefore the practice of the Dhamma depends upon the individual characteristics (Upanissaya) of each person for one person will like it this way and another will like it that way.

Q12 M2:

If one has used one method for a long time and later on someone comes and recommends another method, should one continue using one's old method or not?


If you have gained skill in using any given method and if you are satisfied with it and have gained the results of calm and a peaceful heart, you can go on using that method. In practicing this method of meditation, to begin with the Dhamma object of attention (Arammana Dhamma) is of one sort, but as one practices regularly going on and on the Citta will change its awareness of itself.13 Therefore to begin with one must give the heart a basis to hold on to for the Citta to become calm initially. Later on one may change the method one uses, but the method by which one has gained results is important and one should hold on to it as a basis in one's practice. One must however not vacillate back and forth listening readily and believing easily when anyone says that this or that is good and following what they say even though one gets no results.

Q13 M4:

Doing the method of paying attention to the feeling of rising and falling of the abdomen as one breathes in and out gives rise to strange feelings. Why is this?


If the Citta is firmly paying attention to the rising and falling of the abdomen there is nothing to arouse such strange feelings. But because the Citta is off guard it goes away and gets to know about whatever is in the direction where it goes. You must make it return to the original object of attention and make the Citta do its work just associated with that object. If you release the Citta, letting it go continually wherever it likes, it will never stop deceiving its owner in all sorts of ways. Finally you will not be able to find any firm basis or anchor for the Citta and its basis will become adrift.

Q14 W4:

In doing Anapanasati one keeps one's interest on the breath going in and out, but if one hears a sound from outside the watching of the breath gets lost. I was told that if I heard any sound I should think, "Hearing, hearing" and then go on doing the practice, but I feel that it is difficult for me to enter Samadhi.


That method that you talked of at first is good and there is no need to increase the burden more than necessary. In other words get the Citta to stay with the in and out breathing.

For the latter part of your question in which the burden of the Citta is increased such that as soon as a sound is heard the Citta must "Know, know" and then return and set up the practice as before, if there is something which breaks into the practice often your Citta will be too slow and it will never be able to keep doing the work which it should be doing. When one is at the stage of a beginner in doing practice, the Citta still has not much strength and to increase the burden of the Citta greatly is not good. It is like getting a child to do work which must be gradually explained in each of its aspects. If one explains how to do too much of it all at once the work is too difficult, then laziness will arise and the child will probably dawdle over the work. The Citta is like this.

Q15 W2:

Can one contemplate parts of the body while walking Cankama?


To begin with one wants to get the heart calm. If the heart has attained a state of calm, then as soon as the Citta has withdrawn from the calm one can set the Citta to contemplate and to develop understanding step by step. It may go on beyond one's own understanding and one must not then be anxious about whether the Citta will be calm or not, but press on with the contemplation further.

This work of the Citta is firstly for the attainment of calm and secondly for getting rid of the defilements (Kilesas) internally. But when one is contemplating so as to attain understanding and skill in the parts of the body, mindfulness — that which controls the contemplation — is essential, just as much as it is when doing Samadhi practice to attain calm. Mindfulness must be present to supervise the work all the time.

Q16 W2:

Which aspect of the above two is contemplation of the body?


Contemplating internally and externally so as to get rid of the defilements when done consistently is work of "Citta Bhavana" and is insight (Vipassana). If one is able to contemplate, enthusiasm for doing the contemplation arises of itself. If one does this a great deal one will have to turn from it to rest the Citta, making the Citta calm by dwelling in Samadhi for a while. Therefore one must first of all practice Samadhi for calming the Citta and one must become skilled at it so as to increase the strength of the Citta to practice "Knowing with Insight" (Vipassana Ñana) and also to use Samadhi as the method of resting the Citta so as to continue the work until super-mindfulness (Maha-Sati) and super-wisdom (Maha-Pañña)14 arise.

The Citta will then have courage and ability and it will have mindfulness and wisdom to get rid of the defilements — and this is what makes up "Magga" (The Path). When one has reached this stage, all laziness will have disappeared, one will be able to do Citta Bhavana (meditation) so that one forgets time and sits for long periods and then one attains results which are of high value. When one has sat for a long time one then walks while contemplating so as to change the posture. One uses super-mindfulness and super-wisdom to go on curing doubts and problems until there are no more defilements left to cure. One will then understand by oneself that the Citta and Dhamma have penetrated each other. Thus the way of practice can help to arouse knowledge and understanding of the Citta this way.

The Citta is a very important thing in a person. For one has already been born and the Citta is the entity which has caused one to be born as a person, good or bad and high or low. When the Citta is the chief cause of this one must rely upon those things which influence the Citta for one's future state. If it develops well one can rise up until one reaches the stage of "Sugato" — one who has great happiness. But if the heart accumulates bad things, even without knowing that they are bad, the results which one gets will be bad all the time.

If one practices Dhamma well there will arise a sense of well-being in one's heart. People generally do not know the reason why we receive Dukkha nor when we will be free from it because we are not aware that we have done bad things nor when we did them. We just see the results of them which arise as Dukkha at the present moment.

But in this case we ought to try and choose the work for the Citta to do. If it is evil and "Akusala" we should avoid it completely. If we are used to doing such things we should try and find a way to abstain from them and we should promote what has value and is good even though it may be difficult to do. Thus we gradually train ourselves going on like this until we become used to it, meanwhile using wisdom to drive us on. But lazy people and those who do not like what is good are no use at all because they have no wisdom to drive them on.

If the people love what is good, wisdom compels them to do good until the Citta is used to it. Then results of calm, peace of heart and happiness will come. It may also happen that something strange and wonderful of a different kind arises spontaneously in the Citta. We are not normally acquainted with such wonderful things, but they will arise from the practice of what is good — the important thing being the practice of Citta Bhavana (meditation).

As for the above good person he has only virtue. He is not distracted and he is not at cross purposes with Dhamma, with anybody, nor with anything, as far as and including his own heart. But because his heart does not have any power of control to make the heart, body, and speech go in the right direction — the direction in which it should go, which leads to those results that bring happiness — he must purify and cure his Citta and try to get it to work using the methods of meditation practice (Citta Bhavana) which causes the bad things within him to disintegrate. Those things which are dignified and noble will then develop and increase in the heart, which is appropriate to the value of the Citta — which by way of nature has a very high value.

If one trains one's Citta one will agree with one's own Citta before anyone else15 and if one practices and follows the way that the Lord Buddha taught one will be a clever person. But if one practices and follows the way of someone who does not truly know, it is like the blind and foolish leading the blind — they cannot walk the right way to reach the goal, the end of the road which is desired.

If one is not prepared to let oneself be led by someone who knows the way, then the more one acts in this way the more stupid one becomes, the more one lacks cleverness and one will not see those results which one desires.

Cleverness must depend on mindfulness and wisdom in looking for reasons. People in this world do not become good on their own without doing anything; they must rely upon learning and they must have training. Training raises the Citta higher and if one does not have training one's Citta cannot go higher and the defilements will pull the Citta down until it cannot escape. But the Citta which has trained well can get rid of the Kilesas and this has the highest value.

Meeting at Cambridge [go to top]

Thursday morning, 13th June 1974

Q1 W1:

I used to practice Zen meditation (Samadhi). I was told to count my breaths from one to ten, back and forward. I was then given a Koan,16 the word "Mu" which means "empty." I was told to concentrate on the stomach region, on the blood in the stomach and to have the Citta spread out into the stomach. As soon as I did this a little I would feel tense in the face, eyes and head, and then I would get headaches. While sitting in meditation there was a lot of noise of the beating of drums and gongs. I tried to relax the body but I could not and now I only have to think about sitting in meditation and I get a headache. I would like to know why this happened.

T.A. Questions:

Before you began to feel tense in the face and head, was your Citta fixed on the noise or at the stomach?


It was fixed at the stomach because I had to meditate on "Mu" and then concentrate my energy to go down into the stomach.


What happened concerns the physical body and it was your own reaction. I understand that you were too determined and so you disturbed the body, as if you were having a fight with it. You should ask your teacher, who taught you to arouse such an obstacle, how you should cure it.


The teacher would only help while one was staying at the monastery. Having left the monastery he does not contact his followers by letter. I have now turned to the practice of Anapanasati.


You must persist in investigating and searching for the reasons why this occurs and change the method (of practice) to whatever is shown by these reasons to be suitable to keep the Citta constantly in the present; this may be the way to cure it.

Q2 M1:

What is mindfulness (Sati)?


In taking hold of anything one must know that one takes hold of it. This is mindfulness.

Q3 M2:

In school the teachers ask what Buddhism teaches about the creation of the world?


Buddhism teaches people to cure their problems and to go on reducing their Dukkha stage by stage. It is, for example, like when one comes into this house one first of all opens the door; one does not tear the whole house down. Or again, when children begin school they learn step by step, class by class, so they go higher and higher gradually. But if one tries to teach children who are just starting at school about things that are far above their heads it is no use at all. Knowing about the creation of the world is useless in the same way.

Q4 M2:

In taking the Triple Gem (Ti-Ratana) as one's refuge (Sarana), where it goes "I take the Buddha... the Dhamma..." I can understand this sufficiently well. But in connection with "Sangham Saranam Gacchami," does this mean that we should take the Sangha here as our refuge? For England still has no Sangha, so what should we do?


"Buddham Saranam Gacchami" means to take all the Buddhas to be one's refuge. "Dhammam Saranam Gacchami" means to take the Dhamma that every one of the Buddhas taught to be one's refuge. "Sangham Saranam Gacchami" means to take the Savaka Sangha of every one of the Buddhas to be one's refuge. The Savaka Sangha means those who are: "Supatipanno" — who have practiced well; "Ujupatipanno" — who have practiced correctly, in accordance with the Vinaya that each Buddha laid down, without evading the rules of the Vinaya; "Nayapatipanno" — who practiced for the purpose of knowing clearly and seeing truly — and who let go of everything with "Samicipatipanno" — having practiced Dhamma in ways that are appropriate to Dhamma and having practiced those things absolutely rightly which are the duty of a Bhikkhu. The Lord told us to take these as the refuge.

The Sangha nowadays who practice in the way described above may be taken as a refuge, this being a kind of by-product, because the Sangha who practice properly are within the circle of the "SANGHA." This is the way the Lord said one could tell whether the Sangha exists which one can take to be a refuge, or not.

Q5 M2:

In England it is very difficult to find the Sangha.


If one takes the Sangha as being that which has the characteristics mentioned above, then it is difficult to find in any country!

Q6 M2:

Why, when the precepts are given, must one speak in Pali?


When the Lord Buddha taught Buddhism he used the Pali language and it has meanings accordingly, but if one considers that one understands these meanings one can use any language that one knows. If one agrees that the "language of the heart" is the important thing, the manner of what is socially acceptable, so if we consider Pali to be the language of the heart, when we speak any given word others who have differing native languages can understand it in accordance with their own language and society. This is good, isn't it?

Q7 M3:

The Laws of Kamma and the laws of science are opposed to each other, are they not?


What do the laws of science say? I will speak first about Kamma. Kamma is what people think, say, or do, which is good or evil or between the two — neither good nor evil. Having acted accordingly the result will follow, the result being good, evil or between the two respectively.


Science is not concerned about good or evil or the future.


Having learned science can it cure hunger? When hungry one eats and becomes full. The way of Buddhism aims to cure Dukkha, so if one has anything that is Dukkha it aims to cure that and the principles of Dhamma in Buddhism have various different levels, from those which are simple up to those which are rarely achieved.

Q8 W1:

I now want to learn how to do Samadhi and I want to know myself in a new way, but there is that obstacle of the heart which I mentioned before. How can I cure it?


I sympathise with you, but to tell you how to cure it is difficult because the way of practice differs from what we do. If the teacher has taught a way and the pupil learns and acts in that way accordingly, how can one be sure that the way he taught is the right way? One must search for the basic principles which can make one sure that the goal at the end of the path is the same as the Buddha taught.

A basic principle which I can give you which is common to all ways is as follows: "Do not let your Citta go out externally." When the Citta is outside there are things which fascinate the Citta, so one must then train oneself to concentrate anew (internally) and do this time after time. One does not know whether those things come from one's own heart — or from where they come. But if they are lovable things and beautiful one then loves them. If they are loathsome things and what is more important, fearsome things, one will be afraid. Therefore in order to guard against fear one must look after the Citta and keep it inside and arouse calm internally and peace of heart.

Q9 W1:

Nowadays our world has nothing but confusion and deterioration and society is changing. How do you think it can be changed for the better?


That the world and society are changing is natural. Society is made up of the people in it and the people in each society must investigate and find out what is good, what is undesirable in their society, and how it should be corrected so that it will be right and proper. Someone outside that society does not have enough knowledge and understanding to think out how it should be changed.

Fifth Meeting [go to top]

Thursday, 13th June 1974

Talk on Dhamma

The extent of our interest in Buddhism is because of our interest in ourselves, in those who are associated with us in our surrounding environment and because it shows how we should act towards ourselves and towards those people and things. As for the Sasana (The Buddhist religion), it is neutral, for if we remain silent and disinterested it remains "unclaimed wealth," because the Lord Buddha bestowed the Sasana impartially on human beings and on Buddhists which includes us here.

The Sasana can become the wealth of people at each and every level depending on the interest taken, the taking up and doing of the practice, disciplining the body and using these as food for the heart in the way which accords with the teaching of the Lord.

The results of this will be a calm and cool heart, the extent of which will accord with our standing17 and level of development. So the Sasana cannot be separated from ourselves, for it is like a path which goes to various locations. For us the path is the thing that is necessary, for whichever point we intend to go to we must study and learn how this path leads us on and what is its destination, for if it does not go to the right way it will waste a lot of time.

The way of Buddhism is the way of calm. It is "Niyyanika Dhamma" — "leading on" those who practice so that they can get free from Dukkha in accordance with the level of their Dhamma basis (Bhumi) and Citta basis. When people, who are living in a state of confusion, who are discontented, who do not know what to do, and who do not know how to get rid of those things which are unsatisfactory, have taken the Sasana as their guide, their behavior and practice becomes correct and dignified. Therefore the Sasana is necessary for us who want what is correct and dignified.

The problems which concern ourselves and the Sasana are our own problems. In other words, we are bound to be born, to meet with Dukkha and hardship, and to die.

Our problem is: having been born, how should we act so as to be trouble-free and contented without accumulating Dukkha and trouble for ourselves — or making trouble for others and for society generally? Because our knowledge of how things work is not sufficient for this.

Death is a thing that nobody wants because of the fear that one will be completely destroyed and that one will get Dukkha and hardship which may come to one after one is dead. If one is still alive one knows the meaning of being destroyed so people in the world do not want to die. But if it was known that after death one would experience ease and contentment everyone would want to die now because there are things that we hope to get, having greater value than what exists here, waiting for us if we get rid of the container — which is this body — and this life may be a barrier to the wealth which one will get when one is dead. But if people are still not sure whether after death they will come to destruction, or to happiness and contentment, they do not want to die.

The principles of Dhamma stand unshakably on their own.18 They are certain and can be accepted on faith. The speech of the Lord Buddha is correct and accurately spoken and comes from his purity of heart. Every aspect of Dhamma the Lord Buddha knew for himself before he gave it as a teaching to other people. He had practiced and attained the fruits of it which satisfied his heart and he taught with purity of heart filled with Metta for all beings. Therefore the Dhamma is a Dhamma which gives hope to those who practice it willingly. When we have practiced it wholeheartedly, hope will become clearly apparent to ourselves. One who practices Dhamma — that is, practicing in his own heart rightly following the principles of Dhamma, can see the results appear in himself with certainty.

Having come up against the principles of Dhamma which one has put into practice, one's former knowledge which was uneven and inconsistent is all overthrown — or so it seems to the heart. However long one's life will be one will then never be afraid or timid because one knows how one has practiced and how it gave results step by step. When this life ends, wherever one is born again, whether one receives Dukkha or Sukha in whatever way, it is already clear to oneself and there is no room for doubt. Therefore one who practices following the way of the Lord Buddha can cut off all fear and doubt and there remains only the entire truth and a life of happiness and contentment without trouble. Therefore one should learn about one's own problems so as to bring them to an end and the Sasana will help to arouse hope for oneself.

Questions and Answers

Q1 M1:

I would like to know about the practice of Dhamma so that when one grows older one will not get troubled and agitated.


We see things on the road along which we are going. Wherever we are going to, and wherever we have reached, we thus know that we are going the right way or the wrong way. We cannot correct the way we are going at the moment — it would be a waste of time. If we have decided what destination we are going to, we first of all learn the way and then we go that way — and we go the right way and there are no problems.

Buddhism teaches us to avoid things which are dangerous, and it teaches that the Citta should have its own basis (foundation), and then it will not waver or be afraid, nor doubtful about death and how it will go afterwards. Nor will it be interested in thinking about anything outside oneself — which would be like "grasping at shadows."

If you are going to a place and you are not sure that you are going to find everything convenient there, you will probably prepare yourself and take all sorts of things that you might need so that you will have everything. Then you may be certain that everything will be convenient and that you will lack nothing.

When you are sure that you will find food there, and you have also taken food along with you, you do not feel any apprehension. Virtue is comparable to food, for food is food of the body and virtue is food of the Citta. The practice of Dhamma will be food of the Citta which you carry along with you and the heart will be at ease so that whenever you die there will not be Dukkha.

One knows that the body wants food and whatever type of food is lacking it eats. The Citta wants virtue and Dhamma and if it lacks this food the factors of confusion arise and the heart is uneasy and troubled. One should therefore know where one is deficient and hurry to correct it and accumulate virtue from now on.

Tan Acharn explained Dhamma further:

"Merit" is happiness. "Kusala" is skill in finding things which bring happiness to oneself.

You who have come here to search for what is good, which is food for the heart, such as the practice of Samadhi meditation, if your hearts constantly do virtuous things, your Citta will have skill, courage, good natures, and certainty about the future. This is like someone going on a journey who has arranged everything that will be necessary for his use on the way. We are going on a journey, coming from which state of existence we do not know, but we are human — which means we are people living now whether men or women. People are more clever than animals in this world, and we find that we have been born as human beings. Since birth we have had Dukkha and Sukha, difficulty and confusion, and we have gradually come to know this. We have learned about the events of our own past and one day in the future we are bound to die. After death how will it be? If we act so as to develop our Cittas to attain complete clarity this problem can answer itself and we will have certainty, ease of heart, and a feeling of confidence in ourselves.

Q2 M2:

That method of doing Samadhi19 — does Tan Acharn teach it for all people or are there different methods?


This teaching is a general method which whoever wants to can start with. But when it has been really and truly practiced, the results which each person gets will differ according to the level of the basic state of each Citta. After that a method will be suggested which is suitable to each person's disposition (Carita) because there are many methods of doing Samadhi to suit the dispositions and characteristics of people. Like medicines in which one must apply the right medicine to suit the disease in order to cure it.

Q3 M3:

In doing Samadhi is it important to have a teacher to advise one?


When the Citta becomes more and more subtle one increasingly needs a teacher to explain whether any particular way is right or wrong. Because in doing Samadhi one will come to know new things which one has never known or seen before and if one lets go and indulges in them it will increase delusion. Therefore a teacher becomes increasingly necessary.

Q4 W1:

Yesterday Tan Acharn spoke about training for Samadhi and that one must then contemplate (investigate). How does one do this contemplating?


Contemplation analyzes things into the various components that make them up. For example, one's body is composed of various parts which make it up and one must use wisdom to analyze them.

Q5 W1:

Apart from contemplating the body can one also contemplate other things?


Yes one can — by contemplating from outside going inwards, or contemplating from inside going outwards — if one has understood the food of the body and of the heart.

Q6 M4:

Are the methods of doing Samadhi of Jesus Christ and the Lord Buddha the same or different and how?


Every true religion teaches people to be good people. I (Acharn) do not dare to set up Jesus and the Lord Buddha to have a boxing match in the ring to see who is champion, because the religions do not have anything to argue and fight about. But we people who are variously Christians and Buddhists like to quarrel and fight with words, because being stubborn we do not practice the way of either religion. The manner of teaching of the Founder of each religion was as if He gave a path for us to walk rightly with Metta and we ought to contemplate the virtue of the Founder. It is as if we are going to walk along a path to a particular point and we have decided to go along the path that we know. Then we go on until we reach a point where we do not know the way, so we ask someone who knows and they tell us the way to go on further. As soon as we again reach a point and we go on like this until we reach the goal at the end of the path. The one who points out the way to all of us is a benefactor to us and we ought to recall and think about his gift to us.

The Lord Buddha saw clearly into Dhamma and he also saw clearly into the method by which he had trained himself. Therefore it was never in vain that Buddhists turned to him, and he was ready to help the world to enable it to get free from various dangers with methods which were full of Metta. Summarising this: in both religions the Founders taught people to be good with Metta in the same way. They are different in their degrees of subtlety following the abilities of the founders of each religion.

Q7 M5:

Doing the repetition of "Buddho" must one do it just on its own or together with the in and out breaths?


It is up to each person to do it as he likes. It can be done in three ways:

  1. One meditates — "Buddho, Buddho..." etc., until the Citta remains still with Buddho.

  2. One repeats "Buddho...", in time with the in and out breaths.

  3. One meditates — "Bud" with the in breaths and "dho" with the out breaths.

It is important to depend on mindfulness (Sati) to know and attend to the work which one has set one's Citta to do and to avoid anticipating the result which one will get while one is doing the practice. When mindfulness and the work are going along together, the result will come of itself steadily from the practice of meditation.

Q8 W2:

Please would you explain about mindfulness (Sati) in one's daily life?


Mindfulness is a "Dhamma" which is essential everywhere so as to recollect and know oneself all the time whatever one is doing wherever one is and in all actions and behavior.

To what extent can we practice it? The Lord Buddha intended that we should have untold wealth, but the extent to which we ourselves can have it depends upon the ability of each person. When you have mindfulness always with you and working all the time, then you can sit in Samadhi in whatever way you like. But it is important that mindfulness keeps your attention on just that work that you are doing.

Sixth Meeting [go to top]

Saturday, 15th June 1974

Tan Acharn gave the following talk

In Buddhism the Lord revealed Dhamma in three categories. These are:

  1. Pariyatti — this being the process of learning so as to gain knowledge and understanding the methods of practice.

  2. Patipatti — when one has learned the way one turns to do the practices which the Lord taught.

  3. Pativedha — this being knowledge which is the successful result of the practice in which one knows clearly and penetratingly throughout.

In the time of the Lord Buddha, the Lord did not teach the Savakas20 a great deal. Unlike nowadays when they teach to pass exams of grade 3, grade 2, and Periyan.21 Instead, they learned so as to practice and those who knew the Ti-Pitaka were many and they got no diploma to boost their vanity, but only knowledge and understanding which they learned so as to be able to go further and further in the future.

The Lord Buddha taught every one of the Savakas to contemplate: hair of the head (Kesa), hair of the body (Loma), nails (Nakha), teeth (Danta), and skin (Taco), which are things that we have in our bodies, but by ourselves we are incapable of realising that these things arise and cease continually and change in accordance with the truth of what they are. The Lord taught the Savakas to do this so that they should know the truth which these parts themselves display. When these things reveal themselves as having a nature which is unpleasant, then discontent arises. Nevertheless people grasp hold of them and consider them to be their treasure so that now they must decorate them, take care of them and look after them more and more.

This teaching of the Lord's is given so that we should not feel worried and anxious when these things start to show abnormal functions and to go wrong. Kesa, Loma, Nakha, Danta, and Taco have inherent within them the characteristics of continual change quite regardless of the status of one's birth, social level, or skin color. Those who learn them will get to know them truly because they are attached to our bodies. Birth, old age, change and uncertainty, are Dukkha and hardships as well as Dukkha in the hearts of people. Therefore the Lord Buddha taught every one of the Savaka Sangha these five "Kammatthana" and then sent them off to practice in the forest so as to learn "Kesa, Loma, Nakha, Danta, and Taco," contemplating them one by one in the forward order (Anuloma) and then returning, going through them in the reverse order (Patiloma). The Savaka Sangha went to practice in the hills, caves and gorges, wherever it was convenient and peaceful for those who worked, taking up these five or other Kammatthanas as the basis for striving, until clear knowledge arose, of both the body and the Citta.

Pariyatti was what they learned from the Lord Buddha, as mentioned previously, so as to get rid of stupidity and dullness in regard to those things which we have in our own bodies.

Patipatti is the practice of sitting in Samadhi, walking Cankama, and investigating the above five things which are like a grindstone for sharpening wisdom to make it become keen and strong until it comes to know the truth of various things, skill and cleverness develop in the heart, and even Samadhi develops making the heart calm and cool. These are the results that come.

Pativedha Dhamma is clear knowledge penetrating into all the Dhamma truths (Sacca Dhammas) until it reaches Vimutti — complete freedom.

All three of these Dhammas are necessary in association with each other and they cannot be separated out from the beginning to the end of the path. Whoever intends to get results from Dhamma should therefore practice accordingly without being deficient in any of them, and the results will then be clearly evident and always satisfying in every age.

The things which the Lord taught from the time of the Buddha right up to the present time have not changed. Those who learn and practice should understand that this is the teaching which gives us the knowledge of how to practice in regard to the body and Citta, at such times as dislike, desire, anger and delusion arise, because they are sure to arise countless times in our lives making us feel that this is Dukkha and dangerous. This is because we are not circumspect, not being guarded in thoughts and the imaginings of the heart, so we must learn to know that such and such actions give rise to ill effects (faults) or to what is valuable as the case may be. The practice of the way of Buddhism is therefore the practice on ourselves so as to go the way of the development of a calm and cool heart giving increasing benefits to oneself which is appropriate for the religion that teaches people to be clever in guarding themselves so as to get free from danger.

Questions and Answers

Q1 M1:

With regard to the Citta which does not die, being immortal which you explained yesterday. This leads me to understand this to confirm that the Citta is the same as the "Soul." Please would you clear up and amplify this point a bit more.


What is the "Soul"?


The "Soul" is the one that must associate with God. Each person has one "Soul" and when they die the "Soul" waits for God to judge it and then it is sent to heaven or hell.


1. "Citta," or "Mano-Viññana" is the "one who knows" and this is the "Citta" or "heart."

2. As for "Viññana," the consciousness which comes from the impact of sensation through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind, it arises in association with these things and then dies away and ceases. This is what is called "Viññana" in the five Khandhas, and is different from the former.22

But "Patisandhi Viññana" (which comes under the first heading above) is the Citta which goes to take birth each time in any one of various possible places and characteristic forms. Because this Citta has "seeds" attached to it — in other words "Kamma" which has been done and which can send it off to be born in various different states.

In Buddhism it is explained that beings are born in various different circumstances and states because of Patisandhi Viññana or in other words, this Citta has the nature of Anicca, Dukkha, and Anatta. Then Kamma is the "force" which drives it on. But when this Citta has been "washed clean" so that it is made pure (Parisuddhi), free from Kilesas and Kamma which would otherwise attach themselves to it, this Citta which is pure knows of itself that it will not go to be born again and that it is free and that it is finally and absolutely beyond the rule of Anicca, Dukkha, and Anatta.

As long as the Citta, or Patisandhi Viññana is still not pure in every way, it must live under the rule of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta. But this Citta is very subtle, and how can it be Anatta? It may be illustrated by the following simile which gives a comparison with emptiness.

Suppose that a man was told to go and look in a room and say whether it was empty or not, and in this room there is nothing at all. He goes in and says "The room is empty." But the person who sent him in says: "How can it be empty when you are standing there in the middle of it?" He then becomes aware of himself and leaves the room after which the room is truly empty.

The Citta which gets rid of "Attanuditthi" (belief in self) entirely has nothing mundane or relative left at all, therefore it is said to be an "empty Citta," or a Citta which is pure throughout. Because Atta and Anatta are not there in the Citta, the Citta is absolutely free from both conditions of Atta and Anatta.

Q2 W1:

What is Dukkha?


Dukkha exists in everybody. If we speak from the standpoint of Dhamma, Dukkha is a true thing and everybody has Dukkha, but our hearts do not see what the truth is, so they continually contradict Dukkha. The deluded Citta does not know the truth of Dukkha so it has to search for a way to cure it, but one cannot find a way to cure it by oneself because one does not know the root cause of Dukkha. Then Dukkha becomes oneself and one has Dukkha all the time whether one knows what it is or not.

As to your question, what is this Dukkha? Please examine carefully at such times as you have Dukkha what this Dukkha is; and who can you go and ask about it if you have this Dukkha and do not know it yourself? Because these things exist in everybody without exception. If one "knows," then one practices the way that the Lord Buddha taught. This practice is the way to come to know Dukkha with certainty that there is no other way.

Q3 M2:

What is "Intuition"? For example, when one has a problem and one cannot think out how to overcome it. Then one goes to sleep and when one wakes the answer to the problem comes of itself and it is also the right way to overcome it.


This often happens in those who practice but it is an internal thing, special to each individual and it would not be right to talk about it to other people.

Q4 M3:

"Samsara" is "knowing," is it not? And Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta are "knowing" and when one dreams it is the knowing itself that does the work.


In the circle of those who practice, to say that "Samsara is knowing" is right. When the Citta is not deluded it is this "knowing" that will be relinquished. But please be careful to use wisdom to contemplate until you are able to understand in this way and do not be too easily satisfied, because it may lead you to go wrong later on. You must use wisdom here like a knife — in other words, you must use all sides of it. You must use the sharp side on yourself to cut and get rid of; and the back of the blade on other people. But people generally use the sharp edge on other people, and when it comes to themselves they use the handle or the back of the blade.

Before one comes to know that the Citta is Samsara, wisdom will probably have to contemplate external things until it knows them clearly and lets go of them. Then it comes and sees danger in the true ringleader of Samsara — which is the Citta. When one sees that the Citta is Samsara, it is called "seeing in the reverse manner" (Patiloma), in other words, returning back inwards to get to know oneself and ending all doubts at the same time. One must contemplate both internally and externally. Externally there are the surrounding objects of nature, these being basically earth, water, air, and fire. Internally means within one's Citta and one should know what it is that one must get rid of. This is like a drinking glass that falls and breaks — one must look and see it as it is. If one imagines that it is someone's fault in that they made it fall and break, one will be troubled and upset. But if one sees that it went its own way according to its nature, one frees one's heart entirely and then there is no need to be upset for it broke in accordance with its nature. It is important for the Citta to turn round and catch up with it and see it in the right way.

Then at last one knows the one who creates imagination — this being the Sankhara — the one who creates stories. The stories then cease forthwith and they no longer follow on from one another building a series of thoughts branching out wider and wider.

Discussing Dhamma today in its essence has been more and more interesting, both for those who ask, for the one who answers, and for those who listen. But there should also be something about practice.

What is practice? It is that which brings results to oneself, letting one know and see fully. If those who practice tell each other of the results which they have attained and report to the teacher, this will correct any faults or give clarity and confidence to them. Because each person who practices gains results according to the basic nature (Bhumi) of his Citta and his Dhamma which differ from person to person. So the teacher has to give explanations continuously to encourage those who practice so that they can strengthen their resolve, because he knows the results which he attained for himself and those which the pupil has attained by practicing in the same way to be the same. Also because the teacher who knows clearly, has already gone the whole way, and he is able to talk the pupil into penetrating through and letting go of everything until he can also penetrate through and gain freedom. Buddhism is not "Mogharaja" (a useless Kingdom), but it is genuine and true and capable of giving release from Dukkha. But people to a great extent change Buddhism into a tool for arguing with each other.

I would like to explain this to you so that you would understand all the reasoning — but I have no way to do so because my command of English is no use and I have to speak depending on the translator.

Concerning "Vimutti" (release or freedom), the Lord Buddha revealed this fully — because the Lord knew it truly and the Savaka arahants also knew it in the same way. They never disputed amongst themselves about it and they all equally revealed it in the same way, but other people crowd together doubting everything. None of the arahants have any doubt at all for they have seen that "Nibbanam Paramam Sukham" (Nibbana is the ultimate happiness).

"Nibbana Paramam Suññam," which all of us have learned to know as "emptiness" (Sunya), in the way that people in the world generally understand it, meaning that everything has disappeared. It is like this glass tumbler here, if anyone takes it or it breaks we are then empty of this glass, and this is the way the conventional world (Sammuti) sees it.

But "emptiness" in the manner of "Vimutti," as was known by the Lord Buddha and the Savaka arahants, is of a different kind. The happiness (Sukha) which comes from Emptiness the ordinary person has never seen. So we are bound to be doubtful and to deny it in spite of the fact that the Lord Buddha always taught true things. For our hearts which are still not pure cannot yet accept it and have not reached understanding of it and the Citta which is still false is not yet likely to accept true things as its objective support (Arammana). It is like excellent food, well prepared, that drops on the ground — we do not like to eat it then. The Dhamma of the Lord Buddha is pure, but if the Citta of a person is dirty they cannot accept each other in a good way. But whenever the Citta and the Dhamma are both pure they can blend well together. Therefore none of the arahants have the slightest doubt in regard to the Vimutti that the Lord Buddha constantly taught.

Q5 M4:

The belief in "Self," where does it come from?


It comes from oneself. Suppose that we went out looking for a horse and we found a horse. Then we do not catch it but go back retracing its footprints saying: "It will be a horse that came from there, won't it?" What use will this be? Or again, if we go out walking and get stuck with a thorn, what should we do? Pull the thorn out and put medicine on the wound or investigate to find out what the thorn is, where it comes from and so on? If we do the latter, the wound may go septic and spread until eventually we may have to have a leg cut off. If we do not want to lose a leg we should do the former, but if we do not mind we can do the latter.

Q6 W1:

The thorn hurts also, does it not? As for Atta, it is difficult to understand and I do not understand what it is that makes one speak to let other people know.


(Tan Acharn remained silent, as it would have been of no use to make any comment.)

Seventh Meeting [go to top]

Sunday, 17th June 1974

Tan Acharn gave the following talk

Today I will give some explanation of Dhamma before answering questions. I will not talk for long as I am afraid the translator will not be able to remember.

The word "Sasana" (religion), if its meaning is shown by analogy with things in this world, is like clean pure water and the Citta is like an object which is in continual use. It will probably come into frequent contact with dirty things and so it should be continually cleaned and washed, otherwise one should not go on using it anymore.

The Citta works the whole time, always thinking, speaking and acting. Therefore the Citta is important to people and to other beings who think and imagine all the time without thinking whether what is good or bad is dangerous to themselves or to others who are in any way associated with them.

The Buddhist religion is like water which washes and cleanses the Citta keeping it always clean. If this Citta is likened to clothes one can say that they are fit to be worn, or if it likened to household utensils, they are suitable for use and are not unpleasant. But if they are not washed and cleaned constantly they become unfit for use. The Citta which is not good is like this.

The Citta which is regularly washed and trained is likely to be clear, clean, calm, cool, and developed in ways appropriate to Dhamma and there is nothing in the world which can accept the Dhamma as well as the Citta which is a vessel for receiving Dhamma.

The Lord Buddha practiced until his heart was pure, so the Dhamma is clean and the heart of the Lord is clean and free from blemish, taint or intoxication with the world, so regardless of status or caste he taught all equally and Buddhism is therefore not a danger to anyone. Like clean water, people of every status and caste can use it and nobody dislikes it.

Buddhism comes from the Lord who was genuinely pure, and the Lord Buddha was thus the first "hand" to be clean. The "hands" of the Savakas of the Lord Buddha are also clean, so the first "hand" and the second "hand" are clean and because the Savaka Sangha had all attained purity and arahantship, the Dhamma which was propagated and taught in those days was clean and gave results to those who listened with full attention.

From then on it began to get more and more tainted and the taints were connected with those who were associated with the religion. Religion thus became a basis for criticism, such that other religions that people did not like were seen as being enemies to their own religion. Then there arose a liking for this religion and a loathing for that one which was not the intention of the religion nor of the founder.

The founder of every true religion does not want people to spoil its harmony, nor to break it up and oppose the religious teaching. They taught that people should blend well together and not split up and break harmony, for this is a hindrance to the religion. But because the heart has the world within it, this world hidden inside has the power to make people go according to what is hidden there and the religion is therefore a danger to those who dislike it and a boon to those who like it.

Amongst those who believe in different religions there arose conflict and disagreement and they looked down on, reviled and despised each other's religion. Religion thus became a tool for the two sides to quarrel over with dirty hearts which drove them on.

But the religions remained good because they taught people to be good people as accords with their knowledge, ability and good intentions. In the same way as we learned various branches of knowledge at school, not all of which came from one teacher, for one taught us this and another taught us that, and it is just about impossible that they should all have taught exactly the same things. The Lord Buddha taught so that people would attain the level of arahant. An arahant is one who has reached the level of Visuddhi Guna (the quality of purity) — he is a pure person and a pure Citta.

Whatever basic level of development a person has, he can teach to that level, but depending also on his inherent ability to teach. The person who learns can also receive the teaching to an extent depending on his inherent ability to learn. Therefore the extent to which we will be able to follow and practice the way of the religion will also depend on our own ability, because to go further than the ability of the teacher and the ability of the pupil who practices it is almost impossible.

If anyone brings up any of the essential points of Dhamma from the subject of today's talk, I will be very glad to explain it in accordance with mindfulness and wisdom in a practical way.

All of us in ourselves variously have hope in our hearts, for we are not people who have given up hope, but it does not yet show itself so that we may know it in ourselves. Some hopes have already been fulfilled, some have not and some have only been partly fulfilled. The principles of Dhamma in Buddhism bring people fulfillment of their hopes in a way that is complete and satisfactory. There is no need to talk of people who have given up hope because they have not decided to become good people so they are likely to remain hopeless. Therefore we should act and behave in such a way that will always give us hope. Hope makes us good people who practice generosity, morality, and Bhavana (meditation), and based on this, whether today, tomorrow, this life or in future lives we will not be people who have no refuge and no support for we have the Dhamma which continues to be with us.

Normally the heart has good, evil, and neutral things in it and it can deteriorate or develop. The wisest people therefore try to train the Citta so that they become good people and when it gets difficult they will try to be victorious over all bad things so as to take hold of Dhamma as their refuge and as the basic principle of their hearts. They will then get the hopes of their hearts in full measure in the future.

Any of you who have questions may ask them now, either about Dhamma which has been explained today — or any other day if you wish. The hearts of people cannot disappear for they can develop, they can deteriorate or they can be made pure and when the Citta has become pure, happiness which is not of the type found in this world will be found by the one who practices and he will find in himself what kind of happiness it is and to what extent also.

Questions and Answers

Q1 W1:

Is it true that the Citta is the awareness of right and wrong (conscience), and that this Citta dwells in the heart?


Yes. It is that normal awareness which is always present, the awareness of right and wrong of a person or of an animal (or other being accordingly). The Lord said that the Citta dwells in the Hadayavatthu (heart base) which is the center of the body. But one should understand that the Citta is Nama Dhamma23 and it just "knows" — it is not a physical object even though it dwells in the Hadayvatthu, so it is not like an egg or a fruit dwelling in a shell. Therefore all one can say is that it just dwells there, although the meaning of this is difficult for one to imagine or to guess.

Q2 M2:

When sitting in Samadhi and it gets painful, how should one overcome this?


There are several ways to cure this such as:

  1. It is better to sleep — to turn and escape into one's pillow as one's refuge (Sarana).

  2. When it becomes painful due to sitting, then get up and walk Cankama. Thus by changing postures the pain is cured.

  3. As soon as it becomes painful, concentrate on the pain and examine it thus: "Where is Dukkha?"; look at the parts of the body, the condition of the Citta, and the state of Vedana (feeling), until one sees them all equally as they truly are. Then the painful feeling will cease entirely, or one will see truly that those parts of one's body are Dukkha, but that the Citta is not Dukkha. Because of that the Dukkha is not able to overpower the Citta, and the Citta being unshakably established, the conditions go as far as they can and then give way of themselves.

If you can be confident in yourself that the method of fighting against Dukkha by investigating it is the best and highest way, you should analyze Dukkha into external and internal. But practicing and striving in this way is truly very painful — as though all one's bones are breaking apart, or hot as though one is on fire all over. One wants to know the extent of one's ability, but one must fight before one knows how far one's Citta is able to go.

One still does not know for sure what Dukkha Vedana really is, whether it is Dukkha, the cause of Dukkha (Samudaya), the cessation of Dukkha (Nirodha), or the path leading to the cessation of Dukkha (Magga), so mindfulness and wisdom must be used to search and think it out, and if one can search it out to completion it can quench Dukkha, like burning gunpowder which flares up and in a moment it all goes out — and the Citta remains.

Therefore take up Dukkha Vedana and examine which Dukkha this is at the moment when the body breaks up and ceases. In truth Dukkha arises and ceases continuously, but that the Citta should die never happens, in fact the Citta becomes more and more clear and drops into a state of calm beyond one's expectations.

But those who are afraid of death will get more and more of death. Therefore one should take up this Citta Bhavana and practice it. But it is a much more difficult thing to do than the ordinary methods of the type in which one sleeps at times and wakes up at times which does not give results such as one ought to get.

Q3 M2:

Can one use this method to cure other problems such as distraction or restless thoughts?


The Dukkha that arises from pain is Dukkha of the physical body. Distraction is Dukkha also, but it is Dukkha which arises from the heart because the "Origin of Dukkha" is the cause of it. It can be quieted by the method mentioned above and those who practice have done this until they have obtained results which are satisfactory.

Those who want the highest results should not feel repelled by this method which can fight the tricks and deceits of the Kilesas better than other methods.

Q4 M2:

Tanha (craving) is the origin of Dukkha, is it not?


In what way is there Dukkha together with Tanha (craving), and in what way is there Dukkha without Tanha? One must examine further. In other words, just wanting Dukkha to go away is Tanha. But if one wants to know the reasons for it, such as: "What is Dukkha? what is its cause? How can one get rid of Dukkha?" this is the path — Magga. Desire in the direction of getting free from Dukkha by turning towards the search for the way of peace and happiness (Santi — Sukha) is not Tanha but Magga.

Q3 M3:

Mindfulness and Samadhi are two steps of the eightfold path and it seems that they are the 7th and 8th stages. How are mindfulness and Samadhi in the eightfold path different from their use elsewhere?


Mindfulness is the one that controls the Citta. Samadhi depends on mindfulness to supervise the Citta until the Citta can be set up in one place and remain there and a state of calm arises many times. In other words, at first it arises as Khanika Samadhi — a moment of calm and then it withdraws. Later on the calm becomes a bit deeper, which is Upacara Samadhi and one must depend on mindfulness to retain control until wisdom comes in to investigate. Wisdom must depend on mindfulness and then one will always be able to contemplate all sorts of things; then mindfulness becomes super-mindfulness and wisdom becomes super-wisdom. If one has mindfulness to take control, the Citta which has faults in it will depend on mindfulness to protect it and correct the faults in the Citta. If the Citta becomes calm and free with none of the Kilesas disturbing it, there is no need to cure them at that moment. The Citta will then be absolutely calm and this is Appana Samadhi (full absorption). This is the way we talk about practice.

The training is difficult in the beginning for to start with one has never done it before, one has never seen what results come from doing it, and one must depend on mindfulness to force one to do it, going against one's inclinations by using reason to show the need for it.

But once the results of this begin to appear in one's Citta, interest, the will to do it and the effort will all steadily follow. Then the more that results appear, whether great or small, the more and more strange and unusual, and the effort then comes of itself.

Those factors of Dhamma which are the means of attaining successful results — being the four Iddhipada (roads to success), including Chanda (satisfaction), Viriya (effort or striving), Citta (pleasurable absorption or interest), and Vimamsa (careful consideration or thought) — will steadily become stronger until they enable one who practices to attain his intended goal without any obstacle being able to stop him.

Q6 W1:

When one is able to do Samadhi, will the time come when one who practices no longer needs to sit in meditation?


Before one is able to read one must persevere in learning to spell out words and practice writing. When one is going to write the word "you" one must spell it out "y-o-u". Then the time comes when one is able to write so that when one thinks of the word "you" one can write it without having to spell it out. But normally, does someone who can read and write then stop reading and writing?

Training in Samadhi is the same as the above. To begin with one must use mindfulness constantly to supervise and force the Citta to do it. As he goes on doing it, the one who practices will be successful and get various results for himself, and he will gain skill and ability. When he practices Samadhi and strives and gets rid of the Kilesas until he eventually becomes free from them all, he still goes on doing Samadhi, but he no longer strives for freedom from the Kilesas anymore because they have already gone.

When he lies down to rest and sleep he stops, but when he gets up, he uses mindfulness and wisdom in all sorts of activities including the practice of Samadhi meditation which he continues to do, for he does not throw away the work that he has done, in the same way as someone who knows about books and is able to read and write a lot. He goes on doing this so that it shall be of increasing value in various ways and he does not stop just because he is able to read and write. The practicing of Samadhi meditation by those who have got rid of the Kilesas is like this; they must go on doing it for the purpose of Vihara Dhamma — living comfortably in this world where the Dhatu and Khandhas (mind and body) live.

Q7 W1:

When one's heart is not calm — please give some advice on how to cure this state.


Generally, for those who practice, it is like I have already explained. One must use effort a great deal until one becomes calm. One must also use mindfulness and wisdom to overcome the things which are obstructive in whatever way is appropriate to the practice, until the one who practices knows for himself that he is in a position to get free from them and that he need not be born again, for the Dhamma is unbiased24 and immediately shows results great or small to the one who practices truly and steadily.

The Lord Buddha and the Savakas in the Ti-Pitaka all said that they had to force themselves to put forward effort very often before they gained Enlightenment. From then up to the time when they each entered Parinibbana, the Buddha and the Savakas still entered Samadhi and Nirodha Samapatti, which was a way for the Citta to dwell comfortably "at ease" amongst the Khandhas, which is called "Vihara Dhamma" — Dhamma as a dwelling place — until the time when the Citta departs from the body which cannot last any longer, and enters Nibbana which is the ultimate happiness free from trouble of any kind at all.

When the Lord Buddha was about to enter Parinibbana he entered Samadhi. He entered the first Jhana and went up stage by stage to the state of Saññavedayitanirodha Samapatti, and then he returned step by step back to the first Jhana. Then he entered the first Jhana and went up to the fourth Jhana and then attained Parinibbana between the rupa Jhanas and the Arupa Jhanas.

Because the Lord Buddha was able to do and experience the highest levels like this, all the Savakas persevered in following his example until they succeeded in becoming arahants after the Lord Buddha. The Lord Buddha sought and found Dhamma until he became enlightened, and he upheld this as the Dhamma method which he continually taught to his followers until the day he entered Nibbana. All of us therefore have taken to heart with faith that:

Buddham Saranam Gacchami — the Buddha is our refuge;
Dhammam Saranam Gacchami — the Dhamma is our refuge;
Sangham Saranam Gacchami — the Sangha is our refuge;

...continually in our status as Buddhists, and we do not hold anyone else as our refuge in a heart-felt way as we do the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, which are the most excellent and supreme.

Q8 W1:

Is it true that Vipassana (insight, wisdom) does not attain to Jhana?


The Lord Buddha entered "Jhana Samapatti" (Jhana attainment). The Savakas strove to clean out the Kilesas until they attained purity and became arahants of four kinds, and the purity which they attained was the same and did not differ in being better or worse between the four. But their Citta — each had special qualities in accordance with their tendencies of character, like those were praised for the thing in which they were the most skilled and capable.

When the Khandas and Citta had still not separated, they entered Samadhi Samapatti in whatever way suited their characters and their skills, until they reached the end of their time. "Jhana" is the realm which gives the heart a rest, whereas "Vipassana" is the examination (contemplation) of the things of nature (Sabhava Dhamma) so as to know clearly what is the truth of them and to let go one's attachment for them one after another, until one comes to the end of the things that one should let go of. Then one reaches purity and freedom from them.

As to the question whether "Vipassana will lead to Jhana" or not, this is the concern of stupid people who speculate in their habitual ways of thought and then do not begin to do anything in connection with them.

Q9 W1:

I do not understand what are the characteristics of entering Jhana.


Don't be anxious about Jhana. Jhana is just a by-product of doing the practice and one should not let it become an obsession. The aim of training oneself in order to cut away the Kilesas so that they are got rid from the heart is the thing which one should be most interested in.

Q10 M4:

What is the meaning of "Citta"?


1) Viññana in the five Khandas. This is the "knowing" that arises when an external thing contacts and stimulates the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body or heart (mind). When stimulation takes place the Citta knows it and then it ceases, which is the story of arising or birth and ceasing or dying.

2) One's basic or fundamental "knowing" — this is the Citta and it will go on to create becoming and birth, going to be born wherever it may be, depending on how those things which are infused into the Citta.

Q11 M4:

Are the Citta and wisdom the same thing?


The Citta and wisdom are different but related to each other. But there is a way in which they can be one and those who practice should know this in a natural way for themselves while they are practicing.

Going by general principles mindfulness and wisdom are Dhamma (mental factors) which can arise and cease in the same way as other things everywhere. Therefore to say that they are one and the same as the heart is not proper, but on the other hand they are factors of the path (Magga) — or tools for curing the Kilesas so as to attain purity of heart.

Q12 W2:

May we ask if we could sit in Samadhi together with Tan Acharn for a long time?


Sitting in Samadhi for a long time for those who have already done a lot of practice is not a problem, but one cannot expect those who have just begun to learn to sit for a long time. Therefore people must decide on the amount of time for sitting that is appropriate to their ability.

As for sitting together with anyone or not, this will probably depend on circumstances. But the important thing is that one should sit according to one's own temperament and whether this will be for a long time or not will be up to oneself.

Q13 M5:

How does Anatta differ from going to be born again?


Atta-Anatta are Dhammas that are paired off together until the ultimate limit of the mundane relative world (Sammuti) — until the Citta is free from the Kilesas and has become a special Citta, a special person. Atta and Anatta then disappear of themselves and there is no need to drive any of them out anywhere, for there is just the purity of the Citta entire which is "Eka-Citta," "Eka-Dhamma"25 — no duality with anything further.

The word Anatta is a factor (Dhamma) of the Ti-Lakkhana26 and someone who aims for purity, freedom and Nibbana should contemplate "Aniccam, Dukkham, Anatta" until they see and understand these Ti-Lakkhana clearly. Then it may be said that the Citta has "well gone free." Because Nibbana is not Anatta, for how can one force it to be Anatta which is one of the Ti-Lakkhana, which are the path for getting to Nibbana?

Eighth Meeting [go to top]

Monday, 17th June 1974

Tan Acharn gave the following talk

When the Citta is calm it also wants to sleep, which is strange. In other words, when the Citta is calm it is contented and when it is not calm it is not contented. When thinking far and wide it is not contented and does not want to sleep, but as soon as the Citta begins to get calmer and calmer it wants to sleep, which means that it will get increasing happiness. A short while ago I was sitting developing calm and also felt that I would like to sleep, but I did not let it go as far as sleep because sleep puts both the Citta and the body into a state of rest.

While one is listening to a Dhamma talk (Desana) and one becomes absorbed in listening to the Dhamma, and the Citta is attending to the words of the Dhamma talk which is its only object of attention, the Citta gradually becomes more and more calm; and then it tends to become drowsy and can go into a dreamy doze. Some people blame themselves saying "How is this? when I am alone or talking with my friends I don't feel sleepy, but why is it that when I listen to a Dhamma talk I want to sleep and lie down and I sit nodding out of control. From where does this Mara come?"

What is this about Mara?! The Citta has never had happiness and contentment and as soon as it gets the "stream of Dhamma" lulling it into happiness, calm and contentment it just wants to go to sleep. Then from where does Mara come? In truth, the owner (of this Citta) is Mara who disturbs the owner himself all day and all night without getting peace and contentment until the Citta cannot sleep because it is not calm. One does not know the reason for this and as soon as one listens to Dhamma when the teacher gives a Dhamma talk the Citta grows calm and thus wants to sleep. One then says that it is Mara! Truly it is not Mara, for everybody, as soon as they become contented, want to sleep.

This means that the result of the stage in which the Citta is sufficiently contented is that it wants to sleep, and this is the first stage in which one has received training.

If the Citta has a foundation of calm, then it has work to do while listening to a Dhamma talk — and the work will depend on the foundation or basic level of the Citta; then it will not be drowsy. If it has been doing Samadhi then it will be engrossed in Samadhi. But if it is at the level of wisdom it will become engrossed while the teacher is giving the Dhamma talk. One's heart will tend to follow and become enraptured by the object of attention (Arammana) of Dhamma. It is as though the Teacher helps to clear the way so that one can follow in his footsteps, step by step. This indicates that one has got to the stage of Vipassana — which is contemplation — and the Citta is engrossed in following, because of which there is no drowsiness.

This shows how drowsiness occurs when one begins to do practice. In other words, the Citta does not want to drop into a state of calm, but as soon as it begins to get calm, the calm makes it want to lie down and sleep — because this is contentment.

In evaluating or proving a religion, and most especially Buddhism — which is the teaching of the Buddha — the evaluation should be done with one's own heart. In what way did the Lord teach? Take up the Lord's method and go and practice it, or take up the method which the Lord taught and enter into the practice for the sake of one's own heart — in other words, practice to develop one's heart. If one's heart follows the way that the Lord taught, what sort of results will one get? One will come to know for oneself gradually and this will be the proof of the Buddhist teaching of Dhamma in one's own heart showing to one what things are good and true and what are false.

One will come to know this gradually by grasping the principles of the teaching as that which points out the evidence so as to know the truth and falsehood which is in one's own heart — and they are not to be found anywhere else but only in one's own heart.

Generally one does not know that they are false things and one cannot know from where or from what the falsehood comes. When one does not know this one thinks that one is good and clever — more clever than any teaching, more clever than Buddhism, more clever than the Buddha, more clever than any teacher who founded a religion to teach to the world. This is the assumed opinion of self even while one is being extremely stupid, and in fact it is one's being extremely stupid that makes one think how one is supremely clever.

When one has taken up the principles of Buddhism and put them into practice to test and see how much and how far they are true and where they are false, then one will be able to know how it is with the principles of Dhamma which the Lord taught.

To begin with one is not able to do this so one starts by taking it in brief, or taking up a short or easy method, such as the Lord's teaching of Bhavana (meditation). How does one fix one's attention so that it may be called "Bhavana."

In the principles which are taught in the Lord's Religion, there are various different methods to suit the abilities of those who practice so that they may attain a calm and peaceful heart — which is the result that comes from practice. For example, fixing one's attention on one's breath going in and out (anapanasati). In doing this, one should continually feel the breath as it enters and leaves, not letting one's attention (Sati) slip and wander away and not letting go of the Citta sending it away to other things. Just develop understanding and knowing of the breath — this is one method of knowing about the truth and falsehood of one's own heart.

When one's heart becomes calm one will see the falsehood of one's heart and at the same time one will also see the truth that is in it. In addition one will both see how wrong and faulty is the restless distracted wandering of the heart (mind) which causes one to be agitated and to suffer, and also the merit and virtue of a calm, cool heart, which is one's happiness while the heart is calm. This is called inwardly seeing both the wrong and the right at the same time.

One who has determined to practice truly is bound to see in this way because the principles of Buddhism are the guarantee that the causes are correct and accurate, and that the results are satisfying, the Lord Buddha having been the first to experience them.

Here is one method and only one method among all the methods to try out concerning the Citta so as so see results coming steadily from the practice. Thus to have mindfulness (Sati) and clear self awareness (Sampajañña) to be aware of oneself all the time. This is a way to be careful and watchful of the Citta, only letting it know what is within the field which one has established so that it has a limited boundary to its knowing. One does not allow it to know in a scattered and aimless way without any limit or boundary just as it feels inclined, which is the way that nearly everybody in the world acts. For knowledge and understanding of this sort is not the type of knowledge and understanding which goes towards that level which gives rise to happiness and contentment, enabling causes and results to be seen. One must therefore have a limited field in doing the practice for the development of the Citta by holding to the principles of Dhamma, which are the principles of Buddhism and the way for the Citta to go. Or they are the way so that the Citta will walk along those paths which are taught in Buddhism — which is the way that leads in the right direction and not otherwise.

If the Citta is to be set up and held by the use of one or another of the "Parikamma" words, one's attention must be kept on that Parikamma word. If it slips away to think of all sorts of things one should try to understand what has happened, or one should search for devices or methods of training it in various ways such as rapidly repeating the Parikamma word. But whatever device or method enables one's heart to gain the result of a calm cool heart and to arouse various skillful devices in one's heart may be considered as a right method of training oneself. If the Citta becomes more or less calm, then concern, disturbance, time and place do not get in and make connection with it. There is just knowing and dwelling alone, and this is happiness (Sukha). Whether one sits for a long time or not, there is nothing which comes to cause disturbances for in whatever place one sits and for however long, nothing comes into relationship with the Citta as long as the Citta does not go out and get entangled with things and as long as it has Dhamma as the object of attention (Arammana). There is a state of calm by dwelling alone, and there is "self-knowing" right there at that time. This is called "knowing" in the ways of meditation (Bhavana) — or "knowing" in the ways of guarding the Citta. There is a boundary to knowing and seeing (understanding) and this is the method of progressing to begin with.

However long one goes on doing the practice, one should not abandon or give up the method which one has been in the habit of using and practicing but hold on to it as a foundation. Thus, for example, if one has been using Anapanasati, one takes the breath as the foundation to start with. But the skill of the Citta which has done this constantly for a long time and attained calm often will know things at a speed which is very different from normal and after just one moment it will have passed on. Passed on to subtlety, disappeared and gone utterly quiet and one will not know where the breath has gone. This indicates the skill of the Citta, like when one writes, if one writes the word "you," someone who is learning to write must think of the first letter, then the second and so on until it is finished; but after having learned for a long time, the letters, the sounds, the vowels and consonants all arise together. Skill of the Citta, whether in Samadhi or in Pañña, is similar to this — and the Lord called it "Jhana."

The four Jhanas — first (Pathama) Jhana, second (Dutiya) Jhana, third (Tatiya) Jhana, fourth (Catuttha) Jhana are the Rupa Jhanas and beyond this are the four Arupa Jhanas, altogether making the "8 attainments (Samapattis)" plus Saññavedayitta Nirodha, which is the quelling of Sañña (memory) and Vedana (feeling). But these Samapattis are Dhammas that are special or connected with the characteristic abilities (Nissaya Vasana) of those who are inclined to go this way and they will occur spontaneously. But these are not Dhammas that are necessary to the Path (Magga) or the Fruition (Phala) in which there is the getting rid of Kilesas and reaching the levels and states of purity of heart leading to arahantship. But however this may be, if anyone is skilled in Jhana, it is similar to that person who is skilled in writing and that is all. Thus the first Jhana, the second Jhana and so on — he can immediately reach all of them because of the speed of the Citta. But the characteristics of a Citta such as this which changes its state steadily, does not go up like we go up stairs, step by step, for however able we are at going up stairs we do not jump several steps at a time, but go up one by one. But the skill of this Citta is such that one moment it can reach its intended goal with extreme rapidity. There is nothing that is faster than the heart and this heart is the fastest, for the more it becomes skilled in these functions, the faster it becomes, beyond the imagination of anyone who has not seen the power of the Citta of one who is used to knowing and seeing various things in the path of the practice of Dhamma.

Samadhi is similar for such a person. Just sitting, once the heart has become accustomed to being calmed by his own skill, there is no need for him to find a Parikamma word to fix his attention, to compel and tie down the Citta and to make it enter a state of calm, for just limiting the Citta by means of mindfulness it immediately becomes fully calmed. Within just half a second it becomes calm and reaches a state of tranquillity, nothing hinders it and it drops to the level of Samadhi. This is what is meant by one who has skill in Samadhi. As soon as he fixes his attention for just one moment it goes entirely through (into Samadhi), like we can write the word "you" and immediately read it without any need to grope and think and search for the vowels and consonants, spending a lot of time as we had to in the beginning.

In speaking of the levels of Samadhi, when one is skilled, it is as described above. But please do not believe that you are skilled, or not skilled, for this is anticipation which goes out from yourself and then returns to deceive you, wasting a lot of time and preventing you from seeing the results in the way that you ought to. Whether one is skilled or not, let it be that one trains oneself in that Dhamma and discipline which one has been in the habit of using. This is an important principle, which one also uses in learning to write, for one writes a single letter over and over again until one is skilled at doing it. There is no need to anticipate the way to write all the other letters for in due time skill at them will grow of itself as one goes on practicing. The method of training the heart is like this for skill will arise and grow in oneself.

PAÑÑA. Pañña is wisdom of the Citta. Thinking and (mentally) putting things together and contemplating using reason based on Dhamma in various ways, was called "Pañña" by Lord Buddha. In other words, carefully examining, contemplating, investigating the elements (Dhatu), the Khandhas, the changes of nature (Sabhava) both externally and internally, going on all the time everywhere, always, for if anybody has mindfulness and wisdom to fix his attention anywhere the whole of it will be Dhamma.

All these things are like grindstones for sharpening wisdom continually and all the time in every position and posture one will see all these natural things (Sabbava) displaying their characteristics, and letting one know them by way of wisdom all the time, and therefore Dhamma is to be found everywhere. It is not to be found just in oneself nor just when one sits doing meditation or walking Cankama, for it is there at all times if one will make it be there and keep it there in all situations.

In regard to one's skill in Samadhi, or in mindfulness and wisdom, these will be the same as has already been explained above. But one cannot explain much because it becomes too involved.

In regard to one's skill in Samadhi, or in mindfulness and wisdom, these will be the same as has already been explained above. But one cannot explain much because it becomes too involved.

In regard to wisdom, this is vast and very strange. If one is to do what is truly appropriate, one should just explain to those who have a need to listen to that particular aspect of wisdom and this is the most suitable way to do it. Apart from this one may explain enough to be a step or a pathway so that those who are beginning to train themselves in investigation may follow it, as in the explanation which has just been given.

The Citta can be trained, and the characteristics of the Citta are things which can go on altering and changing step by step. From being refined they can fall down and become gross again depending on oneself who is the owner of them, and the way in which one directs them to go. Thus, for example, we have trained ourselves in the moral precepts (Sila Dhamma) and we are at present training in meditation for Samadhi (Samadhi Bhavana) and this is the training of the Citta which raises it up to a higher level.

If one considers the processes of the Citta, then thinking of everything from the point of view of reason and morality is a way to make one act so that one rises higher — but there will also be things which one will have to get rid of from oneself. In other words, there are both those things that one sees to be bad which should be got rid of, and also those things that one sees to be right which one should practice and develop more and more. This may be called the practice or the training of the Citta to attain the level of knowing and seeing in which there are causes and results27 going up steadily higher.

If the Citta deteriorates, knowledge and understanding change and become lower and lower steadily. But if the Citta reaches purity, entire and complete, neither deterioration nor development take place, because the conditions that bring about deterioration and development have then disappeared from the heart. There remains only complete purity — the heart is Dhamma and Dhamma is the heart. The heart and Dhamma are one and the same. From then on there is no more changing and altering, and then one has come to the end of the practice of Brahmacariya for attaining the higher levels of Dhamma, and has completed the task of getting rid of the Kilesas of every sort.

When he has finished both the task of getting rid of (the Kilesas) and that of developing (Dhamma), what else is there to get rid of? There is nothing else here, because everything has been got rid of already. And there is nothing more he can do to develop higher than this because he has reached the highest already. As to deteriorating, there is no basis for this to happen because this is "Akuppa Dhamma" — unshakable Dhamma — and there is no way for the Citta to deteriorate. The work which ought to be done, which is that of "getting rid of" and "developing" has already been done to completion. This kind of Citta has nothing mundane (Sammuti) entering and hiding in it — no time, no place, no past or future related to the present such as, for example, "now it is like this, in the future what will it be like?" — this sort of thing does not come in this Citta. "This life is like this, next life will be like that" — does not occur in it — because the past and future have come together into existing in the present, and have become pure (Parisuddhi) in the one heart. Past and future, which used to be associated with the heart, therefore have no meaning at all, because the heart is devoid of any meaning28 such as would lead it into all sorts of delusions. If one called this the ultimate Citta and the ultimate limit of the path along which the Citta goes, it would not be wrong.

All that has been said here has been said by way of the principles of practice, which are the results that come from the practice of the Dhamma. These principles follow the religion of the Buddha which is the right way to go, unchanging, in which all Buddhists can be confident. There is no room to think with doubt that this Dhamma of the Lord Buddha has anything in it which may cause the world to be disrupted. Nor can it lead us to disappointment or to loss of faith, for where could this be so in all the 84,000 Dhammakkhandhas?29 Nowhere! Therefore there are no problems for those who practice accordingly.

The only question that remains is: How to act and practice so as to progress in accordance with the principles of the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha? This is called the "Svakkhata Dhamma" (rightly taught Dhamma) and it is also "Niyyanika Dhamma" — leading those who practice rightly and well to get free steadily from obstacles which are obstructions within the heart, until they penetrate through and reach Vimutti, ultimate freedom, and then there is nothing left remaining in the heart. This is the ultimate and final result that comes from the practice of the Dhamma of Buddhism.

When one has reached this level, the heart and the religion are one and the same. The Sasana and the heart cannot then blame or find fault with each other. The heart is then genuine, the Sasana is also genuine, each is respectively genuine and true. It is thus that the Lord Buddha said "Whoever sees the Dhamma sees the Tathagata," meaning this Dhamma. Here, the Tathagata is not the bodily form of the Buddha. Although this bodily form is one aspect of the Tathagata and means that bodily form of the Lord Buddha which is of the same nature as the bodies which we all have. In other words, the body is the bodily form of the supreme "Buddha" and someone having seen the Lord, having saluted, paid homage and Puja to the Lord who delights the eyes and the heart, could say that he had seen the Tathagata with his eyes — and this may be considered as seeing one kind of Tathagata.

Another way is when someone recollects the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha with faith and belief, then it may be said that they have reached Dhamma or reached the Lord Buddha. Yet another way is when someone attains to the level of Sotapanna, Sakadagami or Anagami, going on stage by stage, then this may be called seeing the Tathagata step by step until they reach the final consummation.

The true Tathagata is purity of Dhamma and purity of heart so that Dhamma and the heart are one and the same and one can find no way to separate them and analyze them apart. Wherever the heart is, there the Dhamma is, and wherever the Dhamma is, there the Tathagata is. Then it can be said "Who sees the Dhamma sees the Tathagata." Seeing in the way of practice is like this — in other words to experience Dhamma at the level of Purity by way of the heart following the Lord Buddha, is called seeing Dhamma or seeing the Tathagata consummately.

Then one has no doubts whether the Parinibbana of the Lord Buddha was 2517 years ago or many aeons ago because all this is relative convention (Sammuti) which is the same as the conventions of the world everywhere. Thus the texts have recorded where and when the Lord was at different times and places to act as a signpost waiting there to indicate the time and place of the Lord variously for Buddhists who pay homage and have faith in the Lord by doing obeisance and Puja on the anniversaries.

But as far as the true Tathagata which is complete purity of heart, is concerned, there is no time and place associated with this at all, and for one who is entirely pure, wherever he may be, it is the same as if he was before the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha the whole time — "Akaliko" — eternally.

Therefore, please practice these Buddhist teachings (Sasana Dhamma) so that they develop in your hearts; which means to say that you will not be without the Lord as the Teacher wherever you go and this is the same as being before the Master, the Dhamma, and the Sangha at all times until you reach "Vimutti" — freedom within your Citta. Then you will know for sure who the Master really is without having any doubts.

This explanation of Dhamma is, I think, sufficient, so I will end here.

Questions and Answers

Tan Acharn:

In listening to an explanation of Dhamma, if one tries to remember while listening, the "owner" does not gain value from it in the Citta. But if one decides to let the Citta gain value from it, the Citta will go along with the talk while contemplating it at the same time and it should be able to get rid of some Kilesas at that time, and those that are got rid of will depend on what happens during the talk. But one cannot remember what the teacher talked about.

In listening to a Dhamma talk in the manner of those who practice, generally one is not more interested in remembering what is said than in looking at the Citta and the Dhamma which the teacher is explaining at that time in order that one may get value while listening. For instance, the Citta may gain calm, or some ways of wisdom may then arise and get rid of some kinds of Kilesas. Now I will answer questions.

Q1 W1:

The Lord Buddha was very subtle and when he used words they had definite meaning. Why then did he sometimes talk of Citta and sometimes of Mano?


Citta and Mano are synonymous with each other together with Viññana, and they can be used in place of each other. Why does the world have several words derived from the one word "eat" — thus "Eat," Eating," "Eaten"?30 The word Citta or Mano is like this and they are used as it suits the occasion.

Q2 W2:

The Citta is not Viññana Khandha, so surely it is not the same as any Viññana?31


Mano Viññana equals Patisandhi Viññana which goes to birth in various realms of existence (Bhava).

The teaching of the Lord Buddha is said to be composed of 84,000 Dhamma Khandhas32 which is not much because the Lord Buddha summarised (the teaching) making it suitable to the strength of beings in the world.

When one is doing practice, knowledge branches out more and more so that among those who are doing practice, when they speak to each other they can gain a lot more knowledge. But if one has not yet gained results from practice, however it is explained it is not likely to be of much use.

The Lord Buddha had experienced more than the others and when the Savakas went to speak to him and ask him about knowledge, saying that they had come across this, and had had experiences of that kind, the Lord knew all about it already and could answer immediately. Because the things which happen to each person are different and someone who has already had such experiences will understand them and can therefore guide them on the way along which he has already gone.

Q3 W3:

"Jhana" is not wanted for developing wisdom (Pañña) — how is this?


Concerning Jhana, if one does not have the tendencies of character for it, there is no need to try to attain it, but if it arises then one can use Jhana. Someone who is not energetic will aim to have Jhana much more than the path (Magga), fruition (Phala), and Nibbana, because Jhana is a small matter compared with Sila, Samadhi and Pañña, which are the tools to cure all the Kilesas. This is like our own native language, which we all know even though we never formally learned it, nor took exams in it, nor gained any degrees in it. We do not need any degrees to communicate with each other because just knowing our native language is enough for us to speak to each other.

"Jhana" means to "concentrate intently" — repeat "Buddho, Buddho, Buddho," and it will become Jhana. Jhana is a natural principle, but "Jhana" is not essential for developing wisdom, because in contemplating form (Rupa) there is "Vitakka" — which is "disentangling those things which one sees," and if this is done in a natural way the one who practices can have Jhana, depending on his own characteristics, though it may not go in the way that it is usually explained. The word "Jhana" interests us Buddhists a great deal even though we have hardly had any genuine results of Jhana — but we tend to talk extravagantly about it enough to be annoying!

Q4 W4:

Please may I know how to develop calm (Samatha).


The training to make one's Citta quiet is Samatha, calm. Contemplation, analysing, and branching out step by step, giving rise to understanding is wisdom, which accords with one's level of wisdom.

Q5 W2:

In developing Samadhi Vipassana there are two ways, are there not? Some people say that there is the way of Samatha and some say there is the way of Vipassana — or can one use them alternately?


At any time when one wants calm one does Samatha and at any time when one contemplates with wisdom so as to arouse the method of analysis by examining both externally and internally, it is called Vipassana.

Q6 W2:

I feel that it is more difficult to develop wisdom (Pañña) than calm (Samatha).


At those times when one does Samadhi one aims for calm and at those times when one does Vipassana one aims for seeing truly with wisdom. One should do them at different times and one should not mix them together. There are many kinds of work, both easy and difficult, and work as done in the world is also like this. With some people it is necessary for them to do work that is difficult, but if one is bewildered and afraid of difficulties, one will not be able to do any work. So when the time comes to do any work one should truly work hard and persevere at it until one sees the fruit of that work. If one does this one will have the means to bring about the results of work both in Samadhi and Vipassana — it is not beyond one's ability.

Q7 W2:

How can one develop one's outlook so as to make one not afraid of difficulties?


By the training to develop wisdom. When should one do it? One may do it anywhere, anytime — train oneself to think, to consider carefully, to meditate to "use one's head." Analyze the elements (dhatu) and Khandhas from outside going inward, and analyze those elements and Khandhas of oneself which are inside and bring them up for comparison with external things until one sees with wisdom that they have the same characteristics. If one has already entered Vipassana one will know for oneself extensively and this will go on increasing. If one is just afraid of difficulties one will meet nothing but difficulties which are there in one's heart and they will always be an obstacle to one's work, and one will never have an opportunity to do this work. This fear of difficulties is a very important Kilesa indeed! Trying hard with persistence to oppose the difficulties, is the Path (Magga) and this is the tool for curing every kind of Kilesa, so one should take interest in it.

Q8 W2:

In two or three days time I will go and enter a training course for training teachers so as to teach children religion. How can one help children to have a wide understanding of religion.


There is no obstacle in teaching others which is greater than that of teaching oneself. Let us understand that before teaching others. In teaching religion if one understands it in however gross or subtle a way, one is able to teach others in accordance with one's understanding. To understand religion by way of the texts is easy, but to understand it truly with one's heart is difficult both for oneself and others. Therefore the practice to know religion truly is very important.

Q9 W5:

When one has determined to listen to a talk but cannot remember it afterwards — would you say something about this?


When one can remember what was said, what value does one get from it? One may answer that one gets the instruction in doing practice. But truly speaking, in not being able to remember there is nothing lost and furthermore it can bring one valuable results in a different way, for the heart gains calm at that time because there is no anxiety about remembering. The Dhamma which are retained within the heart one will be able to remember, and that which has been heard and understood makes a deep impression and results in happiness of heart while one is listening. It is comparable to a child eating his food, for the child need not know from where the food comes, nor from which factory, for while he is eating he gets the taste of it which is satisfying and he has taken the food which provides nourishment for his body, keeping it fit and well, and this is sufficient.

There is no need to memorize everything while one is listening, but one should compose the heart and let it be knowing within oneself, and one should not send it elsewhere at that time. The Citta will then receive knowledge in continually following the Dhamma which is being explained. Then the results of calm and peace will arise. Or it will arouse various ways and means which come to one while one is listening. This is what is meant by making gains from listening in the way of practice, in the same way as those in the past who practiced in this manner.

Q10 W5:

You said that nothing is lost in not being able to remember. This gives one a lot of hope.


Listening and taking note of and remembering names and words is of no value at all, for all one gets is the names of Dhamma and of the Kilesas, but the Kilesas neither diminish in strength nor get less. If one listens without remembering but listens following with understanding, it will probably get rid of Kilesas all the while and even though one cannot remember one will get successful results in the way of practice. Because while one listens with mindfulness firmly established within one's heart, not sending it out externally, not even to the person who is explaining at that moment, and with "knowing" limited to oneself, one is likely to be able to understand the Dhamma which is being explained better than if one sends the Citta out to receive it. Results will then appear steadily to the heart and they can reduce and get rid of Kilesas bit by bit every time that one listens, until one is able to go past them, as in the time of the Buddha when many attained both Magga and Phala while listening. Therefore listening to Dhamma is an aspect of practice which is much more important than doing the practice on one's own, and those who practice have been very interested in it ever since those days.

After this the Van. Acharn led a short meditation practice for five minutes, after which the meeting closed.

Ninth Meeting [go to top]

Tuesday, 18th June 1974

Talk on Dhamma

I will begin by explaining Dhamma as I have done before. Afterwards those who have questions from various viewpoints that they want to ask, will be able to do so.

Listening to Dhamma such as I told it to you yesterday, the question was asked by somebody about being able to remember and not being able to remember, and of what value it is if one cannot remember.

Listening to Dhamma in the way of those who practice, they understand what is being explained while they are listening. But now the Teacher speaks a different language and you who listen may not yet be able to understand while the teacher is explaining. But if your Citta stays just in front — in other words the determination to listen at this time has been made — this, together with the flow of Dhamma which is being explained, goes inward and touches one within the Citta. This will make the heart aware of the impact of the sound and it will at least become calm and cool. This is so because the sound is an emotionally based object (Arammana) which can cause the Citta to be a "present Citta."

As for those who listen and understand the language all the time while (Dhamma) explanations are being given, they have something which they can know clearly while listening. Then the Citta becomes engrossed in that aspect of Dhamma which the Teacher is explaining. Because in explaining this Dhamma he must speak about or say things which are there in us also, for these things are to be found everywhere in the world. In other words, the things which the teacher of Dhamma talks about and which Buddhism teaches concern those things that are inherently in beings and Sankharas everywhere. These things one should also be able to know, as well as to understand about those things which are within oneself. In the system of religion which the Lord taught at that time, he gave instruction about this also, and we who listen can gradually gain understanding of the truths in the Dhamma that he taught.

While listening, and when one's Citta is paying close attention to the Dhamma which is being taught, one's heart will gradually become calm and cool and while listening one does not think of going to all sorts of places, nor of any objects of attachment. Then one's heart can drop into a state of calm, undisturbed and contented so that one forgets the time and other things, until one forgets one's tiredness and stiffness and everything else.

If one's Citta has a strong inclinations to go the way of investigation which the Lord called "Vipassana" or "Pañña," the story is different, for while Dhamma is being explained the Citta will keep moving and following continuously, like walking behind and following in the footsteps of the Teacher, who is going ahead. Each time he raises a foot, one steps in the footprint after him, step by step. In other words, the Teacher clears the way so that one may know and understand while listening. When one knows, understands and contemplates following the Teacher, it makes one become engrossed and absorbed in the Kilesas and Asavas while one is listening. It is for just this reason that in the time of the Lord Buddha, when the Savakas listened to the Lord revealing Dhamma, many attained Magga, Phala, and Nibbana.

Sometimes the Citta advances up to a certain point and then when it listens again in the future the Citta goes higher — and so on each time it goes up step by step until it reaches the highest point of Dhamma which they call "penetrating the highest Dhamma," by understanding just while listening.

Not being interested in trying to remember is of value while one is listening to Dhamma in that one gets a calm and cool heart, one steadily gets a clear understanding, one gets happiness and contentment, and one gains various skillful methods. These are the results which are gained while listening, which cannot be gained from trying to remember, such as reciting Dhamma in various Suttas over and over again so as to memorize them. But if anything or any part of Dhamma gets left behind in one's memory, one can oneself remember it. Listening to Dhamma as done by those who practice is therefore held in high regard amongst them.

I would like to tell you some things about Tan Acharn Mun who was a Teacher (Acariya) in this line of Kammatthana so that all of you may know a little about him. In what things was he most active or interested in connection with all the followers who went to be trained by him? He was more interested in pointing out the training in Dhamma to the Bhikkhus and Samaneras who went to learn with him than anything else. He would carefully watch the manners, behavior and conduct in practice of the Bhikkhus and Samaneras for fear that they would go wrong and deviate from the principles of the Dhamma and Vinaya — this is the second thing. But the first was the training and teaching to get the Bhikkhus and Samaneras to understand the "present Dhamma" (Paccupañña Dhamma) which is the focal point of the higher knowing and understanding right up to the highest Path and Fruition (Magga, Phala).

When he gave a talk on Dhamma, if there were only Bhikkhus and Samaneras present he would go on sometimes for two hours before finishing, sometimes three or four hours, and occasionally for six hours. But it was also strange how all those who were there sitting listening were quiet, not making a sound — almost as if there were no Bhikkhus and Samaneras there at all. One heard just the sound of the Dhamma that he taught step by step without breaking the sequence or missing out any steps until he finished.

However many Bhikkhus and Samaneras were present, it was as though there were none there because each of them was listening with interest, and concentrated attention. Every one of them was in a state of calm, the aim of the Citta being to attain the truth and Dhamma so as to have a calm and cool heart. If the Citta steps in towards the realm of wisdom, which means being able to think and contemplate following the Acariya, the Citta then adjusts and adapts to his Dhamma all the time. At both levels we can say that it makes one absorbed in the following ways: In the first stage — Calm. One becomes absorbed in the way of calm and in the Dhamma which lulls the Citta into a calm contented state. The second stage — wisdom (Pañña). One becomes engrossed in the Dhamma which steadily causes the Citta to gain the way. Thus one's interest in the Dhamma is such that no interest remains in being tired or stiff, while one is listening, and while the Teacher is giving a talk just about practice, from the story of Samadhi and wisdom right through to the end. The story of Sila was not necessary because it was covered by the behavior and practice of each one who was present.

He did not talk of many things but only about the principles of Samadhi, Wisdom, and Vimutti (getting free). On those days when there was a meeting and he gave a talk, he was sure to go right through until he reached the subject of the path, fruition, and Nibbana in the one talk and he never got stuck or diverted in any part of it. This was due to his character because he had great knowledge and ability in the field of practice and he had circumspection and great skill in the way of practice.

When one's heart has been continuously trained in the ways of Dhamma, it will have a "basis to hold on to,"33 and the heart which has a "basis to hold on to" is, because of that, likely to live happily and to be normally happy, as well as being happy in doing one's duties and earning a living.

One then lives happily and one dies happily because one has a "basis to hold on to" within one and those who have such a basis are not likely to be troubled and anxious.

Dhamma is the "basis to hold on to" for the heart, and objects in the world are the "basis to hold on to" or the dependent conditions of the body — such as, for example, buildings, clothing, and various types of foods, which are the sustenance and the refuges that the body depends on and lives with. That we have the necessity of depending on these things is because we have been born and born from these things, and we must depend on these things as the means of curing ills and maintaining the body continually until the end of life.

As for the heart, it has Dhamma as its help, as the thing it depends on, as its guardian, and as its "nourishment" — for it is said that "Dhamma is the food of the heart" — or it is the Arammana34 of the heart. But in regard to the word Arammana, there are both good and evil Arammana. If the Arammana is not good it is poison to the heart and inflames the Citta causing it to be troubled and anxious. If the Arammana is good it makes the Citta cool and happy, and then it becomes buried in that Citta, which is what they call Upanissaya,35 or Vasana Parami,36 which means "the continuous building up of what is good and right." However much this has been developed, it will be buried down in the Citta of that person until it becomes increasing Nissaya Vasana.37 When the heart changes and moves off to another place, another life (Bhava), another realm (Bhumi), it must depend on the virtue that one has done and the amount of it that one has accumulated in one's heart (Citta). This is what turns the Citta making it go in a good direction to have Sugati, that which is hoped for, and this is where one lives and experiences.

The body has a graveyard. Wherever one goes to live and set up home, there must be a graveyard for the body in that place, for regardless of whether one lives in the country, in the town, in the forest, the hills, a cave, or on the bare ground, there is also a graveyard with every one of them. Because this form of nature is something that has been born, so it is bound to die and wherever it dies that place is a graveyard. This is the way of the body.

As for the Citta, it has no graveyard because the heart does not die. Right here is a great and important principle, so please take note of this and remember it well, for this is an unchanging principle of truth in regard to ourselves. If someone has rightly thought about and properly investigated the story of the Citta and tried to practice in himself all the virtues of Dhamma which are in the teachings and if he has hopes of living anywhere, going anywhere, or being born in any place, he will not be disappointed in his expectations or in the intended goal which he sets himself. And the hopes which he sets his heart on will be fulfilled.

This is like all of us who have come here to learn today. In other words we come here to learn Dhamma so that it will go into the heart and be a "basis to hold on to," and so that the heart will depend on this Dhamma as its ruling principle. Because this heart is something that does not die, it is not destined for the graveyard unlike the physical elements and the Khandhas — which are the body.

The body breaks up and disappears but the heart does not break up, and when it goes from this body it goes into another body, and leaving that one it goes on to another. Going higher, lower, up and down, because of those things which are within the Citta, that the Lord called "Vipaka,"38 which arise from Kamma — i.e., the actions that the Citta itself does.

The Citta is the one who thinks, and imagines things both good and evil, and the Citta is the one who compels them to go out in the direction of speech or body, so causing them to become actions of speech or body. Those actions which are done in the heart are called "Mano Kamma," those done by way of speech are called "Vaci Kamma," and those done by way of body are called "Kaya Kamma." The word "kamma" means the doing of action, which can take place in our bodies, speech, or hearts. This is important, for when Kamma, which is the good or evil that dwells there, opens the way for the result, Sukha or Dukkha — which is the result of good or evil Kamma — is liable to arise, of such a kind one cannot prevent it.

Mano-kamma is action39 done by way of the mind, speech or body each of which can be good or evil or neutral and these actions are what the Lord called "Kamma," and according to the principles of Buddhism they are also called "Kamma." The movements of the Citta, of the body and speech were considered by the Lord to be actions which are called "Kamma." When there are actions and movements as a consequence of actions, "Vipaka" — the results — must steadily go on being derived from them, and it is only that they variously arise a little bit more quickly or slowly, for some kinds can arise as results quickly, and some slowly. Like results of things that we can see in the world; some kinds arise in a short time, some arise immediately, and some take a long time before they appear; but in the end they are all results just the same.

This is what the Lord called "Vipaka" which one has within one's heart. The heart is the one that made it, that did it; some the heart can remember and some it cannot. But ultimately, it will forget because it is making it all the time, in every realm and every life, in every day and night, in every month and year. Who can succeed in memorizing and retaining all this firmly in mind since the time he was borne in this world? Let alone days or months ago, for even just today one cannot remember some of the things that one has thought about. But thinking, imagining, and doing of good or evil by way of one's body and speech, take place without depending upon being able to remember. They just depend upon the action of doing them and good or evil results are bound to become apparent from those actions all the time. This is an important principle, and therefore the Lord taught that one should always do some good, and now is the opportunity when we can develop something of value or cure whatever we see to be defective in every nook and cranny. This is not beyond our ability.

Once one has gone beyond this life, there is uncertainty both in doing actions and in partaking of the results, because in the realm of ghosts or Devas it seems that there are no factories such as we human beings have. To be satisfied with being lazy in doing good in this world and then to go and be energetic in the next world — the world of ghosts or of Devas — this is a wrong way of understanding!

All the men of great wisdom have thus taught that the one who came to teach us is not stupid. His name is the "Lord Buddha" and he is the supreme teacher, the teacher of all the three realms, the one who truly understands and clearly sees every part and section of the Dhamma which he himself taught with certainty — being the truth. There is no false changeable Dhamma hidden within this teaching and it is thus that the Lord called it "Svakkhata Dhamma" which means "The Dhamma that the Lord Buddha has taught well." The word "well" means "perfectly and completely" in all ways. "Niyyanika Dhamma" is the Dhamma which enables those who practice properly in accord with Dhamma to get free from Dukkha progressively. There is no way for doubt at all for it is Dhamma that is unchanging and certain.

Who can speak rightly and precisely every time like the Lord Buddha? One feels that there has not been anyone else in our world of people. To make a comparison, ordinary people everywhere, if they speak 100 words, will speak at least 25 which are likely to be false, and only speak 75 true. If they speak for a long time the false words will probably increase and they may all become false. But the words of the Lord Buddha are not false because his heart is not false. The heart of the Lord is a pure heart and it knows truly and understands truly, which is derived from practicing truly, and then the Lord gives any teaching it comes out of his heart which is both good and true — then from where could anything be found? So it is a supreme teaching and he is the "World Teacher" which all of us hold as the unchanging principle, or as that in which we can have implicit faith so that we can say: "The Lord Buddha and the religion of Dhamma of the Lord are not enemies or opponents of any of us." The Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, or the Sangha are those that are supreme and have Dhamma — excellence above the world.

The teaching of the Lord, which was the establishment of Buddhism, was given for the group that followed him. It was not given for the Lord Buddha, for the Dhamma, for any of the Savaka Sangha, all of whom had passed beyond Dukkha already. But it was given just for us. The Lord was not lacking anything which might make him desire for results from us as payment, for it was only because of his Metta that he gave the teaching to his followers so that they could take it as the direction for them to go.

We have only to practice following the teaching of the Lord. But then we see that it is difficult to do and we are unable to struggle and follow the way the Lord went. How then shall we live in this world and in what way so as to have happiness, both bodily and mentally, which is appropriate to human beings who are clever in searching for happiness for themselves? This is a question that we should consider and ask ourselves at such times as laziness and carelessness arise, so as to cure these things which are Mara (the evil one) waiting to block the way forward. We can do this by methods which we like, using Dhamma and our skill and cleverness so as to have a way to go on in order to gain happiness and the fulfillment of our hopes, so as to be not entirely barred and blocked in every existence, every life, every day and all the time like it is here, where it is full of Dukkha in our hearts until we cannot find a way and method of getting rid of it. This is to be expected where there are so many people in the present world that there is almost no earth left for living on. But there are still those who are clever and sharp-witted who find a means of "swimming" on a bit and they are not all entirely dull and obtuse — this state being a sorrowful thing to those who are the wisest of men.

How should we examine and contemplate? When we are waiting to "wash our hands" at once, we still cannot do it. The teaching was taught by the Lord both rightly and precisely in all things and ways, but to practice and follow it accordingly, we see to be difficult. Then where will we go to find comfort? We have been living in this world a long time and from what do we derive comfort? We should question ourselves in this way and maybe we will start ourselves thinking. If it is to be in accordance with our desires, wanting comfort, wanting ease and relaxation, we ought to be people with ease and relaxation since long ago and we should not be shouldering a mass of Dukkha like people everywhere in the world. But this does not accord with the image formed in our minds which symbolises what the heart wants — unless the Kilesas have been deceiving all people and all beings for a long time and they still have not seen the banefulness of their deception at all — on the contrary, they agree wholeheartedly with their soothing suggestions, lulling them to sleep in their skillful ways.

The world teacher in the wheel of samsara is the Kilesas themselves. Once they get to teach people they stick to them and more and more people come until the Kilesas cannot handle them all. Because beings in the world very much like their trick methods of teaching, and they are never bored or satiated by them even though they lead to Dukkha and punishment, due to being deceived since long ago.

The world teacher of freedom from the wheel is the Lord Buddha, the first Venerable One, the first to know, and the first to train and teach, and there is nobody who is his equal. But the Kilesas do not like this and continually obstruct Dhamma, and so those beings who like the Kilesas will generally be bored with Dhamma and the Dhamma is therefore not likely to reach their hearts even if they listen and practice for a long time. In the event that happens here and there, please look at yourselves and you will be able to see this well enough without difficulty.

Whatever way we go we must analyze. If we are to be pupils who have a teacher — our Supreme Teacher (the Buddha) to teach us, then we must try to do good so as to wash away all things which are evil and bad. Fighting them is bound to be hard and difficult to some extent, which is only normal. We must constantly think like this — which is better than having the Kilesas of laziness and slothfulness coming to be our teacher and to drag us into ways that are base and low, causing us to suffer Dukkha and torture without end or reason, when we may be able to get free from Dukkha.

Now is our opportunity and we ought to have organised and got ready, for we are now complete in everything. Our bodies are in good health and we know that we are human beings who have found Buddhism. This is also an opportunity for us to develop virtue so that it goes down into the heart, and so that we may reach the goal that we want. There is just the heart and Dhamma which will be able to give us the fulfillment of our hopes. We must try to get things which are good and right into the "balance sheet" of the heart — which does not die. Apart from that we cannot find anything that is certain because the whole world of mundane conventions is impermanent (Aniccam) which includes our own bodies, and whatever we rely upon we wait but for it to be destroyed and disappear time after time. We see this in every place all the time — it happens everywhere, and this the Lord called "Aniccam, Dukkham, Anatta," which surrounds us both externally and internally. In this we cannot have any confidence, apart from the development of virtue, which is the training of oneself just to have an even steady virtue with this Dhamma. This is an important principle to bring our fixed aim to steady fulfillment.

Such a heart wants to go onward all the time, it does not want to remain in a mass of Dukkha and torture, and it wants to live happily. If we talk about levels and standards, in other words the heavens and Brahma worlds, then the heart is the one that wants to go there and does not want to go down to the hells at all. In fact Dukkha is something that it does not want to experience in life or feel its touch at all. But then, why does the world find it and feel its touch all the time? It is because of the deluding tricks of the Kilesas which are in command and more clever and sharp than all beings. They are the teachers that teach beings and drag them all down and submerge them, even though they do not want to be submerged.

What is it that is the teacher of the round of Samsara (Vatta) — that is the cleverest in the world nowadays? Just the Kilesas, Tanha, and Asava, apart from these there is none in the three realms of relativity (Sammuti) where all beings dwell. And there is none which can extract and get rid of this "nature" apart from that Dhamma which is called the "Svakkhata Dhamma" of the Lord Buddha.

Whoever wants to go free beyond Dukkha and tries to "scramble up," practicing according to the Dhamma of the Lord, will have a way and will be able to pass beyond it. Whoever is energetic in complaining about Dukkha can complain as he pleases, but if we do not want to let the Kilesa laugh and mock us again and again, we should constantly try to understand ourselves. Because when we arrive at the time that we are cornered with no way out and we are truly up against it — and a time such as that gets right into oneself — what will we do? We must raise the proposition and question ourselves well beforehand.

When it is cold those things that make us warm we see at that time as being important, and when it is hot what are those things which make us cool? Whatever they are we will consider them to be important at that time. When Dukkha comes to us, what are those things which bring us Sukha? The other half of the pair which is linked to it is "virtue," and this is the means by which Dukkha can be diminished and got rid of — and it can get rid of Dukkha in a positive certain manner without any shadow of doubt, because never have any of the Kilesas been able to overpower the Dhamma, since time immemorial.

Summarising: Wherever there is virtue there is Sukha and a warm- hearted nature. The following is a close simile to illustrate the meaning: — It is like a man who falls into some water and there is nothing to grasp or hold on to at that time. Even if he has always been afraid of ghosts and death since he was born, yet if a dead body were to float up to him while he was drowning and searching for some refuge, for something to hold on to, with great anxiety, he would immediately grasp hold of that corpse as it floated by, so as to save his life. At the same time he would forget his fear of ghosts which he had always had because his life is much more important than his fear. This is a simile to illustrate the life and Citta of someone at the time when "being trapped and cornered with no way out" truly gets into them.

The last moment at the end of life is sure to be like this, and the Citta is bound to think of various things such as thinking of virtue or thinking of evil that one recalls. When one has no virtue adhering to oneself, sufficient to give one some warmth of heart, one thinks of evil that one remembers as the only alternative. Then anxiety and sorrow arise and pile up within the Citta, causing the anxiety and trouble gathering round to increase further and further so that it becomes overwhelming. If one has done virtuous things, as soon as one thinks about this virtue, the Citta immediately grasps at it and goes quite calm. This is much more so with those who have practiced virtue constantly — they need not be in doubt; for that virtue is a companion, a friend, and one that one can trust one's life to more truly than anything in the world.

We Buddhists should always understand about ourselves. Which means that the heart is the one thing that matters, and it is to be explained from two points of view, these being: Firstly, "What is the teacher of the round of Samsara?", and secondly, "What is the teacher of freedom from the round of Samsara?", and both of these have just been explained. Please do not forget this! I shall now finish so that it may be translated to you.

Questions and Answers

Q1 W1:

When I practice Samadhi, I am liable to go into "Yogi Sleep" (going deep into Bhavanga). Some people say this is good and some that it is not good. Who is right in this?


Please explain "Yogi Sleep" and ask yourself what do you feel about it, and after you have come out of it, what remains of it in your Citta.


Nothing remains of it, but I feel more fresh and lively.


One person says it is good, another says it is not good, but why do you go on believing them? You must know for yourself whether it is good or not. Therefore it would not be right for me to say anything about this for fear that you may get attached to my words. For the Dhamma which is presented here is at the beginning and has still not divided up and branched out enough so that the learner can gain value from it. Therefore it is best to answer some questions and not to answer others. Answering everything fully is poison to the Citta. The person himself (lit. the owner) should examine the results which come to his own Citta. What I am saying here must depend on who it is that comes into contact with me as to what kind of Dhamma they should receive, whether ordinary or middling or high or low according to the level of attainment of the person I meet.

Asking this question makes me think that the questioner's basis of Dhamma40 is uncertain. Those who practice must have gone through this, for if they have practiced Samadhi and if the Citta has gone deep down they must know. If they go to sleep and when they wake up nobody knows and if there is just the sound of "sleepiness" and lying down all the time, how shall we know about the Citta? In doing Samadhi, as soon as the Citta is about to go down, if we do not let it go down and force it to work, we will never be able to build up a firmness of the Citta which accords with the teaching of Samadhi for the attainment of calm. The word Samadhi does not mean sleeping and knowing nothing. One must know within oneself in particular and not know anything else apart from oneself.

Q2 W2:

I still do not understand about the heart and Anatta.


Do you understand Atta? (The questioner replied "Yes, I understand.")

Have you ever practiced Samadhi? (Yes)

For the Citta which has gained calm with any given object of attention (Arammana), whatever method was used to do this may also be used to learn about Atta or Anatta accordingly, but to begin with one should hold on to "Atta." Later on one gradually withdraws the attachment to Atta until one can completely get rid of it, because the Citta is naturally complete and its own self. But it is not "Self" having the nature of "Atta" as mentioned above, which is a mundane convention (Sammuti), for it is free (Vimutti) and therefore is different.

Q3 M1:

How should one act so as to do Samadhi properly? In daily life one has work which one must go and do. Must one stop doing it so that one can practice constantly?


If the Citta knows its own developing and deteriorating it then raises itself up, but if it does not understand this then the Citta is deluded about oneself. Investigation depends upon the Citta and the opportunity. If one has a lot of work to do and meditation (Bhavana) deteriorates, then it brings one down from the results which one should get and therefore we say that the Citta deteriorates. But in truth the Citta does not deteriorate, for it is these characteristics that indicate development or deterioration and these are only the characteristics of the Citta. The Citta itself does not deteriorate.

Q4 M2:

"Aping or Monkey Practice" — which means seeing someone else doing something and then wanting to act so that one looks as if one is doing the same thing. Then acting in the same way in everything. What should one do to know whether practice is true or not true?


You yourself will know yourself. This answer is already inherent in your question. We ourselves are the central theme and there is no need to go and seize hold of an artificial shadow.

Q5 M3:

You said that the Citta constantly accumulates much virtue, then it goes to be born in a better place. I would like to know what is meant by "better."


The Citta makes Kamma, and the result is in the Citta. Then it sends the Citta off so that it brings about what is appropriate to that result itself. The owner of that Citta does not know about this and does not have anything by which to find out. But there is the Lord Buddha and the Savakas, who, it appears, are able to know.

Therefore there is a general delusion throughout the world in regard to what people have got in themselves, and they are the same everywhere. If we ourselves practice, the Citta will know itself. If the Citta is skilled, mindfulness and wisdom are bound to become more and more subtle and then you will be able to know for yourself without having to ask anyone else. There is nothing that can go beyond the power of mindfulness and wisdom — and because all the Kilesas are afraid of the Dhamma which is mindfulness and wisdom there are no Kilesas of any sort which can go higher than the Dhamma which is mindfulness and wisdom, if one trains oneself to become proficient in them.

Q6 M4:

Is it difficult for the Citta to return and become a human being, or not?


You have been born a human being — is this difficult? We ourselves do not know about ourselves because the Citta has no strength. If one has mindfulness then one steadily comes to know. I have previously explained here that the Khandhas just have the nature to break up and the moment when the Khandhas are about to break up, the Citta turns about and becomes powerful. The moment when the Citta is about to part from the Khandhas, whether there is much Dukkha or little, or none at all, will be an indication of whether the Citta has mindfulness or not.

Those who practice generally know that Citta differ, for there is nothing more subtle than the Citta, and one cannot measure it. If the Citta has mindfulness and wisdom then one can follow it. This must depend on the mindfulness and wisdom which people have developed, and whether it is much or little accordingly.

It is said that at the time when the Lord Buddha was about to enter Parinibbana he entered Jhana Samapatti and went up from the first Jhana until he reached Saññavedayita-nirodha. The Venerable Anuruddha Thera, who was very skilled in the ways of the Citta, set his Citta to follow the Lord Buddha in whichever Jhana the Citta of the Lord Buddha entered. In other words, he went up through the four Rupa Jhanas and then through the four Arupa Jhanas, until he reached Saññavedayitanirodha. He rested there for a moment and then he withdrew back through the Arupa Jhanas and the Rupa Jhanas until he reached the state of Citta of ordinary purity. Then he entered the first Jhana and went through to the fourth Jhana, and then the Lord entered Parinibbana between the Rupa Jhanas and the Arupa Jhanas.41 From then on it was beyond the ability of anybody to follow and know, because he had gone beyond and was free from every kind of mundane convention (Sammuti).

While the Lord was entering the various Jhanas the Venerable Anuruddha Thera sent the flow of his Citta to follow the Lord without letting up, and he knew, following the state of the Citta of the Lord Buddha from step to step. When the other Savakas asked him: "Has the Lord entered Parinibbana yet?," he answered "Not yet," and he told them each time the Lord entered and left each Jhana and he was able to tell them what happened step by step until the moment when the Lord entered Parinibbana.

Why was he able to know, from moment to moment the progress of the Lord Buddha's Citta while he was entering and leaving each Jhana, for this is very different from us who also have minds that receive and know various things up to a certain level? The knowledge and ability of the Citta that has been fully trained is as different from the ordinary Citta as the sky is from the earth. For the Citta which is filled with a heavy burden, as if there were a cesspit loading and weighing it down all the time, can in no way be compared with the Citta which has become fully purified.

Clever people are therefore likely to believe in those who have knowledge and ability above their own capacity and to accept them as teachers. Like the followers of the Buddha who believed in the Lord as being the world teacher and as their refuge. This differs from stupid people who deludedly think that they are clever, until their cleverness leads them to breakdowns, destruction, and ruin, and even then it is unlikely that they will feel themselves to be in fact what they are. There is a lot of this kind of cleverness in the world of human beings — and it seems to be increasing at a rate beyond one's imagination — until one fears that there will be no world for us to live on.

Tenth Meeting [go to top]

Wednesday, 19th June 1974 & Thursday, 20th June 1974

Tan Acharn:

We will start with a talk about meditation.

Meditation (Bhavana) is the process of learning about, or looking into, the body, and examining the mind (Citta) and reading the story of the heart, for the Citta writes about various things the whole time, but having written we never read it.

Even if we never know that we have thought things that are good or evil on a particular day or time, it is the character of the Citta to like thinking and imagining in various ways, and this will show itself when we practice meditation because the Citta struggles and moves about a lot and cannot remain still and contented. The Citta of ordinary people are generally speaking like this everywhere and it is more difficult to break and stop than anything else. Therefore because the Citta is normally a subtle thing, it must rely on mindfulness and wisdom to supervise and look after it.

The more we examine what is wrong and right, evil and good, in ourselves, the more we are likely to find that there is no limit and that the things that are faulty are many. Therefore the principles of Buddhism teach us to contemplate and look at what is good and what is faulty (spoiled) in us, and sometimes it shows things that are unpleasant and sometimes pleasant.

The teachings of Buddhism are the best "tools" for doing this and so generally they teach more about the heart than anything else. For the only "tools" that are able to match up to the ways of the heart are the principles of Dhamma, and it depends on us whether we will be able to equip ourselves suitably with these "tools" or not.

Making things of all kinds requires the use of tools, and if the craftsman is well skilled these things will be beautiful and useful. This is equally so with one's body, speech, and mind, for the body is like a growing tree which may be either softwood or hardwood, but the thing that matters is that the craftsman takes it and changes it into something useful such as a table or chair, depending on what is wanted. When it is finished it will have become beautiful, ornamental, or useful, according to the type of wood and the ability of the craftsman. Similarly when the body, speech, and mind have been altered and corrected in accordance with the principles of Dhamma by putting forward the utmost effort with full commitment, they will become one's treasure, having more value than all other things. This is because people are not the same as animals, and their value, whether high or low depends on virtue as their wealth, and not on their flesh and hide.

The world considers that the value of animals is in their flesh and hide and other parts of the body, and therefore when they die nobody is distressed. But this is not the case with people for they must also have good and seemly behavior to give assurance of their value. Good behavior of body, speech, and mind, is the value that raises up human beings and this value and beauty does not alter with time, which differs from the physical body that goes the way of nature and changes all the time. If one has value and virtue as an "ornament" to decorate oneself, this remains and does not deteriorate even when the body gradually deteriorates.

It is particularly important when training in meditation (Bhavana) that one should try to restrain one's Citta and stop imagining all sorts of things so that one may get some calm and peace, and then one will begin to see an increase in the value of one's heart. When doing meditation try to let the Citta keep its imagining within the work that one wants to promote, such as "Buddho... Buddho...," which is work that will cause the Citta to become calm. When one tries to do this with interest and with mindfulness to control the Citta, it will be able to attain a state of calm without being troubled by emotionally disturbing objects. The heart which is void of disturbing things will be happy, calm and peaceful, and this will be experienced within the heart at that time. Calm and happiness of heart without any emotionally disturbing things is a happiness that is a most longed for refuge and the Citta which is established with only a "single knowing," was called "Ekaggatacitta" by the Lord.

"Ekaggatacitta" is to "know one." It is a happiness of heart that has nothing equal to it. For even though the Lord Buddha who established the profound Dhamma, entered Parinibbana 2517 years ago, the whole excellence of it is still this refuge in which all Buddhists have faith and pay homage to without ceasing. When the end of the "Buddha era" of this Lord Buddha is reached, there will still be another Buddha who will come anew, attain Enlightenment, and teach the world and this will happen again and again endlessly.

When the heart becomes calm and breaks free from emotionally disturbing things one will immediately know the wonder of the heart, even though one has never known it before, because this is a most strange and wonderful thing in the life of someone who has never known calm of heart. When the Citta is calm it is not liable to have any thoughts and imaginations giving rise to emotionally disturbing things to trouble oneself and cause confusion and distraction but it remains in a state of Eka Citta, Eka Dhamma42 and it just stays in this state until it rises up and withdraws from it. After this it thinks and imagines various emotionally disturbing things according to its normal habits of thinking and imagining.

If the Citta can go down into a state of calm even just once, it will arouse the enthusiasm in someone who practices in an amazing way and he will hardly be able to forget it for even a day. In fact it will make him try to practice meditation more and more. Therefore someone who has already seen results from practice is likely to put forward strong effort without slacking.

Let us respectfully put aside the knowledge that we have learned from the Buddhist texts for the time being, for I would like to explain enough from this viewpoint of practice to point out the way. Because by learning about Dhamma one must come to know Dhamma and by practicing Dhamma one must come to know the results, for the Dhamma has never been a secret thing since the Lord Buddha's Enlightenment up to the present time and the Dhamma which was taught so that we know it now still remains true and is not in the least deficient. The practice which accords with Buddhism is still there to give results which are neither more nor less than was taught in the past — except that the person who practices may not be capable in the way that those who practiced in ancient times were, in which case the results will not be the same, for the causes are insufficient and the results will be weak. Causes without effects do not exist so what or who should one blame? Therefore one should correct one's reasoning, for right now, who is it that is obstructing Dhamma and not walking the way that the Lord taught, apart from oneself?

At the time of the Buddha, Dhamma was true Dhamma and they learned Dhamma so as to experience Dhamma and truly practice it, and they did not hold back and turn Dhamma into the world. I (Acariya) would like to tell you that I myself am not entirely good in all ways. In coming here to visit you in London there is both good and bad that I have brought with me and if it turns out to be a mistake I hope that I will have the forgiveness of all of you who are listening.

I will now give you an example of "turning Dhamma into the world." To begin with I (Acariya) studied the texts and managed to pass the exams and attain the grade of "Dhamma Tri" and I was very pleased at this — and it aroused a group of Kilesas. Later on I attained to "Dhamma To" and "Eka" and then I became big and puffed up and the Kilesas increased and a big mass of them arose, so that I could not get away from them. Within me I was full of nothing but Kilesas and I thought I was clever. Later on I became "Maha Parien" and I thought I was even more clever. But in truth I was only clever at remembering the names of the Kilesas, Tanha, and Asavas and many others. I knew only the names, but this never struck me for if it had I could have got some of the Kilesas, however few, free from my heart. There was just the thought that I was clever to attain this grade and that grade. If one does not look, one does not know when Dhamma turns into the world.

As soon as I turned and became interested in practice and the Citta aimed at the meanings of Dhamma, the swollen pride gradually diminished and being a Dhamma scholar of this grade and Parien of that grade began to lose their meaning, until I felt ashamed of them and I did not want to breathe the title Maha at all. Then this again became another type of Kilesa, for I understood that this was right thought. Previous to this I liked to have my name and the title Maha well to the fore, but now I wanted "Maha" to be in the background. The Kilesas, then, are Dhamma that is false — that has changed into the "world." When I had practiced more Dhamma, these Kilesas gradually broke up and disappeared from the heart.

In telling you this I don't intend to insinuate anything against anyone for I am just telling you about myself and how I used to be, and this is what I call "Dhamma turning into the world." If one does not understand Dhamma one will never be able to cure the Kilesas which can hide themselves in subtle and strange ways.

The word "Samadhi" which so far I had only known by name then became apparent to the heart. When I studied the texts as related above, I memorized by repetition until I became skilled at it both by mouth and in the heart, but I came to know the truth of some of these things when I practiced as hard as I could. But here I do not mean that I knew these things until the Kilesas arose as big as a mountain — while self was the size of a mouse or an elephant, the essential meaning is the same. I am just telling you the story of the Kilesas which are found in the Citta and the owner (oneself) must be one who knows them for himself and gets rid of them by himself.

Samadhi is firm stability of the heart and it became steadily more firm and stable. Then I knew both the name and the nature of Samadhi and I knew it with my own heart. When I examined the elements (Dhatus) and Khandhas I saw that the body (rupa-kaya) is made up of the four Dhatus both internally and externally and all of them are within the scope of the Ti-Lakkhana — Aniccam, Dukkham and Anatta.

Concerning Pañña (wisdom) I had already got the name of it and I had seen the heart do work using wisdom as hard as it was able to, continuously, without letting up — which is the way of those who practice. Mindfulness and wisdom are Dhammas which one knows for oneself. Then there are no doubts left about what is called Magga-Phala, for "Magga" is the mindfulness and wisdom which steadily makes the Kilesas break away and leave the heart and makes one see in the heart that Dukkha, Samudaya, Nirodha, and Magga, have been truths right from the beginning.

When mindfulness and wisdom can read the truth rightly until it has been accepted by the heart, doubt comes to an end and one who has no doubt can live peacefully without being disturbed by anything ever again. This is the end of the story. Dhamma then is Dhamma, the world is the world, each of them is true and each of them exists independently by itself and the disturbance between the Citta and all things no longer takes place.

The phrase "Tesam Vupasamo Sukho" does not mean that having died because the Sankharas have ceased is the only Sukha. But that the quelling of those Sankharas that are the basis of Samudaya (the origin of Dukkha), that can cause the Kilesas to arise, is then also Sukha even though one is not yet dead.

Today we have explained "Dhamma as Dhamma" and "Dhamma which becomes changed into the way of the world." If one can practice as they did in the time of the Buddha, then one will get results as they did in the time of the Buddha. But it is a sorry thing that Dhamma is the truth yet we generally like to play with it, and the thing that shows up until it becomes bothersome is the argument which is generally put in the words: "Magga, Phala, and Nibbana can no longer be attained in this age anymore," and that "Whoever practices well and however much, has no hope of penetrating (Enlightenment)." It is as if there were somebody who monopolised Magga, Phala, and Nibbana just for himself, as though he were omniscient (Sabbannu), even though he is so full of Kilesas that nobody is bold enough to compete. Then Buddhism is liable to be just a name. As for the truth of Dhamma in the circle of those who understand that they have faith in Buddhism, they have been robbed by the Kilesas and plundered, taken, and eaten so that there is almost nothing left in the heart, body, and speech at all. If they continue to oppose Dhamma by understanding as they do now, in the future I am afraid it will be a religion of text books and there will just be the names left.

Questions and Answers

Q1 W1:

The Venerable Paññavaddho said: "One aspect of the Citta will go looking for Dhamma, and another aspect of the heart wants to go the way of the world." What way should we go?


When the two fight together, if the Citta inclines to and goes the way of the world, the Dhamma loses. The Lord Buddha and the Savakas were not desiccated wood or dead people, for they were people like us. The Lord Buddha gave up his wealth and possessions including his servants and family so that he could go out and become ordained. This showed that he was a warrior who opposed the way of the world until nothing could resist him as if the whole world was shaken by him.

Who does not love their wife and children? And it is normal to cherish wealth, possessions and servants, but the Lord gave up all this because he saw that his way was better. The Lord Buddha and the Savakas in no small numbers fought and made up their minds to turn towards the way of this Dhamma and to practice and fight with the "world" within the realm of the heart until they won and gained freedom. As for us, we have been defeated by the Kilesas in every becoming and birth. Do we never think that we would like to defeat them? Or are we so afraid to get free from Dukkha that we do not like opposing them?

To compare the two, what is worse and more cruel than the Kilesas, and what is better at leading people to what is most excellent than Dhamma? Which will one take as best? Good and bad, we know them already from the above comparison. As for the Kilesas, they dwell in our hearts and they are already there. If they were excellent, we should have been excellent long ago, so there is no need to choose — it is a waste of time.

Q2 W2:

This question arose from my Citta. I cannot make decisions — I am not sure how to do what is best.


How long have we people lived in this world? And we have probably had problems arising all the time which we must solve. Don't you know how you acted in regard to some of those problems so that you have been able to live up to the present time?

Q3 W2:

Should one learn from mistakes such as that?


There are many ways of solving problems. One may give in entirely. If one sees that one should oppose, then oppose. Or if one sees that one should agree, then agree — and if one knows that in a given instance, acting in a particular way one will be able to win, then act in that way if you do not want to be a person who always loses out. But if losing is the way of virtue and winning is Mara, then it is good to lose. Those who are people of Dhamma lost in this way. Convicts like to get the upper hand over other people, and then they have to submit to being put in prison. But is it good to lose out to the Kilesas in this way — like a convict? One should examine this carefully in detail.

Q4 M1:

If one does Samadhi using the rise and fall of the abdomen (as the object of attention) and pain arises, should one concentrate on the pain or upon the rise and fall of the abdomen?


If one does it in the usual way, painful feeling will not yet have arisen enough to warrant withdrawing the Citta to examine it. If Dukkha arises strongly then one must withdraw from watching the rise and fall of the abdomen and turn to examine the pain so as to know the truth. If one is busily engaged in holding on to the rise and fall of the abdomen, then one will never know the truth — which is Dukkha. Then the Citta will get bored and withdraw from the work entirely and one will never gain results.

But if one examines Dukkha and it truly becomes so strong that one cannot stand it, when it is incredibly strong then one must give way a little. But the important point here is that the Citta is not willing to give way entirely and withdraw. One needs to understand this for if the Citta sticks at it, it can quell the Dukkha. Because the Citta examines and divides up the Dukkha to find out whether it is Dukkha of the body or of the Citta. If the Citta is skilled in wisdom one will probably be fully cognizant and able to extract feeling (Vedana). Then something wonderful such as one has never before experienced will happen at this time — and one will never forget it.

Q5 M1:

That "examining" — how does one do it?


Examining means to analyze the nature of Dukkha, dissecting and looking at it thus: In which spot is Dukkha most prominent? then we understand that that is Dukkha. One then examines precisely in that place saying "Where exactly is the pain — in the bones? Or muscles? Or skin?" The Citta must point to where Dukkha is strongest. If one knows that the Dukkha is in the bone, then one should examine further thus: "If one should die they would take this bone and cremate it. But why should the bone not be painful then?" When one has examined this fully one will see that the same thing applies to every part of the body. In other words each is true in its own way according to its nature. But in contrast to this, it is the Citta that grasps Dukkha and takes it as being Self — and Self as Dukkha! One will then know a method of quelling the Dukkha which accords with the level of one's mindfulness and wisdom and of gaining knowledge of a type which is wonderful. This which I have spoken about is for all those who practice the way, to take up and practice whenever the necessity arises, such as when one has sat in meditation for a long time, or whenever one has pain or fever which gives much Dukkha.

Q6 W1:

If the pain is in the Citta, can one use this method to examine it? And will it get rid of it?


Yes, one can use it. Dukkha in the heart means being sorry, regretful, worried, or perturbed in various ways. If one examines this the Dukkha disappears in the same way. But the way of examining to get rid of this Dukkha in the heart must depend upon the character of the person as to what is suitable. If it is a person, who is not resolute and bold another method must be used. The Citta must look at and examine itself. It must turn itself round and go in and search for a way to quell the Dukkha which suits the character of one's Citta. Otherwise it will conflict with one's character and one will not get the results that one should get.

Q7 W2:

If we take the example of the Lord Buddha and leave home for good, it will be difficult for wife and children. For people such as us, we are uncertain whether it will be good or not.


When one is still not sure of anything one should not get rid of it. Buddhism does not order or force people, saying that everybody must dispose of everything completely like the Lord Buddha. But we should accept that we are not able to do this like the Lord Buddha and we should imitate (the Lord) in ways that we see as being suitable for us who are followers of a teacher. But we should be watchful, for if we are heedless we may think that we are his followers yet that we cannot do things like he can, but we may do things according to the dictates of the Kilesas and forget to think of the virtues of the teacher — the Sasada (the world teacher, the Buddha) — who taught that people should have diligence and energy so as to be able to follow the teacher. Therefore we should keep this in mind and reflect on it so as not to forget ourselves and allow the Kilesas to laugh at us.

Q8 W2:

I would like to leave my family to go and practice Dhamma but I am afraid the children would be very sorry.


One cannot go yet, but nobody has come to penalise us. We are like fruit which when it is still not ripe must remain attached to the tree — until the time comes when it is fully mature. Then it becomes ripe by itself and once this happens it can fall from the tree at any time.

We must still wait until we are ready and able to dispose of everything and not imitate the ways of others when we are not yet ready. But we should also not think only about whether other people are going to be sorry, for we ought to consider the disadvantages that are inherently there for ourselves. Then we will not be careless due to other people being the sole cause.

Q9 W2:

If we break up our relationships or the attachments (Upadana) to others, is it likely that we would still be able to live at home with them?


Tan Acharn did not answer but explained to two Thai followers and the two western monks that: "If I say it is alright it would be like opening a way to let one who has left home return again. In the end they would not be able to get free from their attachments (Upadana).

The truth is that the Lord Buddha and the arahants had already got rid of attachments in the Khandhas, but they still relied on the Khandhas everyday until Nibbana. There is no indication that they broke away from the Khandhas and went to stay anywhere else."

Q10 W2:

I have read "Forest Dhamma" and felt that Tan Acharn was a strict person. But now I have met Tan Acharn and seen that he can laugh and tell a joke and smile.


This shows that that book was not written by this person, is that so? Or otherwise, maybe you think that someone else wrote it, or that I wrote it myself but that I wrote it when I was feeling strict.

(The others present indicated that they agreed with the questioner's observation).

Q11 W2:

When will you hold another meeting?


On Friday evening, 21st June. On the 22nd June we must say farewell and return in the morning. When I return (to Thailand) I will think of my brothers and sisters in London.

I am a person living in the world, the world is angry so I can be angry, the world laughs so I can laugh. We are not brick Bhikkhus or cement Bhikkhus. Here in London the weather is cold and it is getting colder. When I have gone I will think of my brothers and sisters in London but I am not sure whether I shall be able to come again, nor when. But some of my brothers and sisters in London may be able to go and visit me in Thailand. My brothers and sisters in Thailand are anxious for Tan Acharn, and I am anxious for them. This is because being associated with each other in Buddhism, one is bound to be concerned for each other always in regard to Sukha and Dukkha, which is found in people throughout the world, which is something that I can help to reduce or remove with whatever strength I have.

Discussion in the Morning

Thursday, 20th June, 1974

Comment: This morning at the time for giving Pindapata food to the Bhikkhus at Dhammapadipa Vihara, Colonel (Special) Mom Rajawong Pongtit Diskul, Assistant Military Attache to the Thai Embassy in London and Mr. Brian Dyas and Mrs. Sue Tucker, of the Hampshire Buddhist Society, gave Pindapata food to the Bhikkhus. Later they asked Ven. Acariya Maha Boowa if he would answer questions as follows:

Q1 Mr. Dyas:

I had a letter from Ven. Paññavaddho so I knew that Ven. Acariya was coming to London. I would like to ask about methods of developing mindfulness at times other than when one is sitting in Samadhi — such as, when one is doing work. Can one do this?


How should a business man train himself in mindfulness? What must he keep in mind (reflect on)? He must have mindfulness and clear awareness (Sati Sampajañña) and know of himself, what he is doing and why continually without forgetting himself. This is how a business man can develop mindfulness. Someone who develops meditation (Bhavana) should be able to do it in the various aspects of his business that he must be involved in, because mindfulness and wisdom dwell in the heart which is "the owner" of its work, in which it should be able to involve mindfulness and wisdom every time — or be able to use them much more than business men do generally. Then there is nothing to stop him maintaining mindfulness in every aspect of his work.

Q2 Mrs. Wint:

I understand that the meditation practice of repeating "Buddho" should only be used when sitting in meditation. Can one use it at other times or not?


When you do your work do you have to use the Citta to think of other things elsewhere or not? If one meditates "Buddho" but the Citta goes away thinking about other things it is no use even when one is sitting doing meditation. Therefore in doing meditation of whatever kind, if mindfulness is present with the heart and one can keep the meditation in mind the whole time, one will be able to use it any time and there is no prohibition for someone who is interested in training themselves.

Q3 Mrs. Cherry:

I feel that my heart is like a monkey jumping from one branch to another. What should I do in this case?


Use the method of meditation of "the monkey catching the monkey." In other words, try to get the Citta to think of the meditation word. Mindfulness, the means by which one keeps it in mind and knows it, is quicker than the monkey. Therefore, one can get mindfulness to catch the Citta which certainly is like a monkey.

Q4 Mrs. Wint:

There is a woman who wants to make an appointment to come and see tan Acharn so as to seek help in overcoming a problem concerning her Citta. Before she came to Buddhism she went to some Indians and had faith in various Devas. Now she feels that the Indian Devas still get into her and make her afraid. She used to be a well-known piano player, but she has stopped work now.


This is the story of the Citta deceiving its own owner. The owner thinks in a certain way that deceives the owner, and then she believes that the Devas of India come to deceive her even though it is she who is deceiving herself.

There is a story of a Kammatthana Bhikkhu who was newly ordained and was afraid of ghosts. His teacher took him to stay in a cremation ground43 and told him to sit here and the teacher said he would go and sit over there, some distance away. His teacher also told him to sit and close his eyes and meditate until he came to call him, and then he should gently come out of meditation. The teacher then went to sit a little way off, stayed for a short while and then got up and returned to the Wat.

As for the newly ordained Bhikkhu, he sat with his back to where the Teacher sat and did his meditation practice without any thought of fear because he thought that the Teacher was sitting watching out for the ghosts. After a long time, a little apprehensive thought about ghosts arose. Then he slowly got up and walked to find the place where the Teacher said he would be sitting. When he got there and did not see the Teacher, fear arose and he ran to the Wat. The Teacher then said to him: "I have not yet called you, so why have you come here?" Then he spoke sternly to him: "This shows that when you thought the teacher was there with you, you were not afraid, but as soon as you did not see the Teacher where you thought he was, fear of ghosts arose stronger and stronger until you had to run to the Wat without waiting for me to come and get you." This indeed, is the nature of the Citta that deceives oneself without there being any need for a ghost to come and deceive one at all.

Therefore in saying that Indian Devas get into her and make her afraid, it is most likely to be her own Citta that creates its own deception.

Q5 Mr. Pongtit:

How should one train in Kammatthana so that it is not dangerous?


If one plants a tree and then frequently moves it from one place to another, it will not grow well. Training in Samadhi, if one changes the method often, it is not likely to give results. One should train oneself to set up the breath as one's object of attention and to be mindful constantly at whatever point the breath is felt. This is not dangerous because the Citta is not going outside to search out and about things to come and deceive and scare oneself. Investigating Dhamma is similar but the Citta must be interested in investigating and one must not let it go off track, or off the path.

Q6 Mrs. Cherry:

I meditate repeating "Buddho" doing it one way, thus when I breathe in "Bud" and when I breathe out "dho"; is this a good way?


There is nothing wrong with it and it can bring peace of heart if it suits one's character and one likes it, and it is likely to bring results also, if one has mindfulness. But if one does not have mindfulness to supervise and control it, then whatever type of meditation practice one does it will be the type without mindfulness and the type that does not bring results.

Q7 Mr. Dyas:

Doing Anapanasati, one must keep watching the breath. But what is it that one looks at? Does one look to see that one has breath as well as the one who sees the breath?


To begin with one has mindfulness to watch the breath entering and leaving as well as the one who knows the breath. But later on the breath and the Citta will gradually find each other and fuse together. Then even the person who is doing the practice disappears leaving only the one who knows with "knowing" alone without being concerned about anything else.

Eleventh Meeting [go to top]

Thursday Evening, 20th June 1974 & Friday, 21st June 1974

A Dhamma Explanation

Tan Acharn said:

When people have liked or loved anything in their hearts and when talk of that thing occurs it makes them happy and enthusiastic. For example, when a sportsman speaks about sport he can go on endlessly, even forgetting to take a meal or drink anything, for he is sustained by the fun he is having.

People who practice Dhamma also do this, for they speak about Dhamma and in particular about the field of practice, and when they speak about meditation (Citta Bhavana) they are likely to become more and more engrossed until they forget time. The hours pass and they never notice it when they talk together about Dhamma and practice and however many are present it is a fascinating story.

The Teacher trains and teaches them about the attainment of Samadhi, the Samapattis (Jhana), mindfulness and wisdom. They talk about "getting rid of" — getting rid of the Kilesas of various kinds by means of the power of mindfulness, wisdom, faith and effort step by step, and this makes them even more engrossed in following what he says.

Even if the "owner" has not yet been able to experience Dhamma in any of the ways that his Teacher has, it still makes him cheerful and joyful in the Dhamma which the Teacher has practiced, known and seen and come to tell them in a manner that is fascinating, so that they never feel that they have had too much of it.

The Lord said that "The flavor of Dhamma is superior to all other flavors;" of all flavors none tastes better than Dhamma. If the taste of Dhamma were not so supremely excellent, the "Three Worlds" would be unlikely to have paid homage to and worshipped the Dhamma; and then the Dhamma would not have been considered as supreme, it would not be suitable as a refuge (Sarana), as something to hold on to, as something certain, nor as something in which all good and honest people can have implicit faith.

The extent to which all Buddhists pay homage to and have faith in the Dhamma is because the Dhamma is a thing of excellence as befits the renown and prestige of Dhamma that spreads out from each of the Buddhas and the Savaka Sangha of each of the "World Teachers" (Buddhas) respectively, until it came down to us. That it came down to us was entirely due to those who, after having partaken of the "taste of Dhamma" with their hearts, then brought out this Dhamma which they had known, seen and experienced and taught it to the world right up to the present time.

They did not guess or suppose that the taste of Dhamma was superior to all other tastes, for they knew the taste of Dhamma as well as seeing absolutely clearly into all aspects of Dhamma. Then they brought out that knowledge, that "revelation," and proclaimed and taught the World in accordance with the fundamental truths which they had known and seen by taking their own knowing and seeing as evidence in proclaiming Dhamma and teaching the World.

When we say: "Dhammam Saranam Gacchami," (I take refuge in Dhamma), how much depth or profundity has it? It is not a superficial Dhamma which one can know and see on the surface and teach the world in a superficial way. For the Lord knew the truth and taught the truth of Dhamma to the world at all levels. Therefore those who listen should listen with interest and practice with sincerity. The result which they get from Dhamma will be Dhamma that reaches the heart stage by stage, going right up until the various kinds of Kilesas are removed. In fact they can all be removed entirely to the satisfaction of one's heart, so that one knows this clearly in one's own heart, as it says in the Dhamma teaching: "Sanditthiko" — knowing for oneself and seeing for oneself. Even if the Lord Buddha was sitting in front of one one would not then waste time asking any questions, because the truth is the same truth and the same experience.

But in the practice of Dhamma amongst all those who are the highest sages, they are very careful, because Dhamma is not like the "world." If Dhamma were like the world it would not be called Dhamma because it would be the same thing as saying "the world" and just this one word would be enough, and it would be all mixed in with the way of the world. But there is this word because Dhamma and the "world" are not the same and even though they are both in the world together, they are not one and the same thing. It is only that they are here interfused with each other, but not the same thing, for they just dwell together, like all of us here are just dwelling together at present — Bhikkhus and lay-people dwelling together, but not one and the same, men and women dwelling together, but not one and the same, children and adults dwelling together, but not one and the same. Thus, although they are living together they are separate individuals, each one merely living there. It is like this with Dhamma and the world. The highest Sages practiced until they knew by experience clearly in their own hearts, and they then led the religion steadily and consistently without acting in gross or unseemly ways in the eyes and ears of those who had faith in Buddhism. This refers to the Lord Buddha and the Savaka arahants who brought Buddhism to us for us to see and admire in the most beautiful and seemly way. They did not bring it in a manner that would surprise and disturb the listener.

Here, I will tell you an illustrative story for you who are practicing Dhamma. For it may be with some of you that this Dhamma "overflows" and when there is occasion you let it out, or show it off, without any shame or feeling of being open to criticism. This happens because of a desire to become famous or distinguished — which is nothing but the work of the Kilesas pushing it out. Therefore I will tell you this story of the wise men who followed the way of the Buddha — a moral lesson.

The Venerable Assaji had penetrated (Dhamma) and become an arahant with all the five Pañcavaggi who were the first five Savakas of the Lord Buddha. The Ven. Aññakondañña was the first and Ven. Upatissa, who became the Ven. Sariputta, the highest of the Savakas placed symbolically on the right hand side of the Lord Buddha, had at this time not yet become one of the Savakas and he was ordained in the institution of wandering religious mendicants (Paribbajaka) and practicing according to the customs of such people at that time. When he saw Ven. Assaji who was very beautiful and seemly in all his actions and manners — walking forward, withdrawing backwards, looking to the right and left, with a very composed deportment which instilled great respect and confidence, he followed stealthily behind him. As soon as they were out of the village he went up and asked him where he lived and about his Uppajjhaya and Acariya. He replied only briefly to the question about what Dhamma the Teacher (the Buddha) or his Acariya taught, saying "I have no very great knowledge so I will just speak of it in brief for you to hear. 'Ye Dhamma Hetupabhava... etc.' — 'All Dhammas arise from a cause; when they die away the cause must die away first.' The Lord Buddha taught like this. That is all."

Then Sariputta the Paribbajaka penetrated through and immediately became Sotapanna. As for Assaji who was the teacher, he did not then say of himself that he was one of the arahants, in fact he did not say anything at all. But Ven. Sariputta may have been able to know his attainment in Dhamma when he heard the Dhamma in brief which Ven. Assaji taught him, because in the stage of Sotapatti Magga and Sotapatti Phala it is possible to penetrate deeply and to know the truth of someone who has a level of attainment higher than oneself. Therefore Ven. Assaji was able to teach him a wonderful kind of Dhamma which he had never heard before, so that he penetrated Dhamma.

But it seemed from the texts that Ven. Sariputta never heard Ven. Assaji say that he was an arahant, because Ven. Assaji did not make any outward show of being an arahant. This is the first example to illustrate what was previously said.

The second story concerns Mr. Kamanit44 who met the Lord Buddha in the house of a potter. When the Lord asked him where he was going he said he was going to see the Buddha. The Lord asked "Where are you going so as to see the Buddha"? and he replied "I am going a long way for the Lord is sure to be at Savatthi." But the Lord did not say that he was the Lord Buddha. How profound was the subtlety of the wisest sage in not telling him, for the Lord knew all the ways of cause and effect and that to tell him would have led to some form of loss. When he had weighed up the situation he saw that it was of greater value not to tell, so he left without saying anything about his being the Lord Buddha, even though Mr. Kamanit was still searching for the Lord.

As soon as the dawn came he left the Lord Buddha and shortly met Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Moggallana who were walking along the road towards him, going to see the Lord Buddha in the pottery and they questioned Mr. Kamanit who said that he was going to see the Buddha. Both of the Savakas asked him whether when he came through that place he had met anyone there. He said that he met a Samana in the pottery and he was one whose behavior and manners made one respect and trust him very much.

"He was zealously practicing all last night and he taught Dhamma (Desana) in a melodious, beautiful voice and what he said went to the heart and was very impressive. But I am still not satisfied and want to go and meet the Lord Buddha so I have come from there."

Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Moggallana did not say anything to let him know that the person he had met was the Lord Buddha. Why did they say nothing? Because this is the way of the sages, for if anyone was to say anything it was for the Lord Buddha to say it first. For whatever the need was to let Mr. Kamanit stay for some time and then go on and meet Sariputta and Moggallana on the road, they only spoke together when his back was turned, saying: "Eh! That fellow has no idea that he has already met the Buddha, but the Lord did not say anything to him, and in short, because of that we cannot say anything also." This is how the Sages immediately understand each other and their knowledge and understanding does not lead to disagreement, unlike people who have all the Kilesas, who only want to "sell themselves" and incite the Kilesas making them increasingly pile up in the Citta instead of making the effort to get rid of them. In the practice of Dhamma in the sphere of Buddhism, this sort of thing tends to happen all the time. Therefore I have anxious thoughts, though in truth I should be more anxious for myself than for others. But I cannot help being anxious for all our companions including Upasakas and Upasikas and all others who have Saddha in a gradually widening circle.

Suppose in a particular case something happens that is improper and disturbing in a way for one who wants to be a learned sage following the path of the Lord Buddha, it is likely to cause deterioration and harm to himself and to Buddhism. Those who practice Dhamma should therefore always be self-controlled and careful to maintain virtue, because Dhamma is different from the world.

In the practice of Dhamma, even though someone truly aims for Magga, Phala, and Nibbana until he is able to penetrate to the desired goal of "Arahatta Phala," such a person would not say that he knew that he had attained Enlightenment. Why? Because how could the words "I have attained Enlightenment" be of any use as a means of helping the listener? One cannot see how; but they could be a basis for vainly boosting one's own state in accordance with what the world praises — that is about all. The Lord therefore did not do this, but he used the method of giving advice over and over again by teaching the way of causes and the way of results which it was appropriate to teach in a manner that was more or less strong or gentle accordingly. He therefore taught according to the level of attainment of whoever came to be trained, and depending on the time, place, and people and their status and state, he taught and trained them in ways that were suitable. He taught according to the ways of cause and effect, but he did not say that he was accomplished in Dhamma up to such and such a level for this would be an unseemly thing to do. The Lord was not addicted to speaking because it is not in harmony or appropriate to the status of a sage.

In the time of the Buddha the Bhikkhus had great confidence in each other, and they were very careful about this. Even in the present time, if there is someone who has truly followed the way of the Lord Buddha, one should understand that he will not deviate from this track. This is however not so with those present day "Sages" of whom there are a large number, and one can count the one who is speaking as one of them also, that are always overflowing and waiting to go "overboard." If this is the case, it shows that the excess which is spilling over the "edge" of the Citta is not Dhamma. If there is true knowing and seeing let it just resound within one's own heart — do not let it go out externally where it can create disturbance. A sharp blade should be kept in its sheath where it will be safe. To throw it about the place, whatever word or blade or weapon it is, is dangerous both to oneself and others. If one puts it away properly it is not dangerous, in fact one can get nothing but value from it. When someone advertises boastfully saying, "I have attained Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami, or arahant," there is no reason why anyone who hears this should be glad, in fact it may change their faith in him, making it gradually diminish and they then see the Kilesas of that person quite clearly and they just feel wearied and fed up and that there is nothing else worth respecting in that person.

Therefore, all those who practice, if they are people who aim truly for Dhamma, must aim for reason rather than announcing Dhamma of this kind outwardly, which is not the way of the Lord Buddha — but the way of a rotten fish which announces itself so that flies swarm around.

Announcing and selling rotten fish to the flies is the way of rotten fish. When we hear or smell them they irritate our ears and nose and the irritation seeps into the heart. Why is it so irritating as this, for if the Dhamma is a true Dhamma, when these things go into the Citta they make one feel irritated and wearied of it all?

Various people variously aim for gain and Dhamma (Attha Dhamma) of the higher levels. But when any of them announced things of such a kind that one cannot find any reason in them it means that they are repressed in their hearts — or they have a hunger in their hearts. So when they say these things they are not good to hear. But even though the person himself may not be aware of his state, if other people admonish and warn him he should listen. If he is also a person who has been aiming for gain and Dhamma he should become aware of himself and be more restrained and careful of himself in the future. Do not turn yourself into a rotten fish within Buddhism, for this Dhamma is sweet smelling and it has led people to respect and pay homage (Puja) to it throughout the world for a long time.

Today I will just explain this far to begin with. Ven. Pañña will translate for you. If I speak a lot he will forget much of what I have said already.

(After translating into English there was still some time to spare so Tan Acharn spoke further as follows:)

A story of the present time, Professor Ouay (Dr. Ouay Ketusingh). I wonder if you have heard this one? It has been repeated so much that it has now become something of a legend.

There is a Bhikkhu of the present time and not very long ago while Ven. Acariya Mun was alive, who went together with some Bhikkhus to practice and train themselves in the way of Kammatthana Dhamma to a hill, but there is no need to say in which province they went to do their meditation. While doing their meditation at about midnight, this Bhikkhu thought that he had penetrated Dhamma and become arahant, but what he was investigating in his meditation is not known. His hand felt in his handbag and he brought out his snuff pipe which he blew as a whistle — Peep! The other two Bhikkhus who were with him on this hill quickly ran to find him for they did not know what danger he was in. They never thought that if he had penetrated Dhamma he would blow a whistle, so they thought there was some danger.

"Hey, what's the matter?"
"Nothing is the matter but I have just attained."
"Heck! You've attained what?"
"I've attained arahantship!"

The two Bhikkhus said nothing — they probably did not have the heart to. This thing about reaching arahantship may be alright but what was more important than that was..."O-ho! Having attained arahantship you blow a whistle; what level is this?" This was their doubt but they did not say anything because having thought about it in various ways they returned tired of it.

Later on, one night and once again about midnight, the two Bhikkhus heard the whistle blow again. They thought, "He's probably attained to nobody knows what level now!" But they could not not go and see him because the three of them were living together in case of real danger coming to them, so it was their duty to help each other. So the two of them came back to look for the Bhikkhu who blew the whistle and they asked him:

"You blew the whistle again this time, so what further level have you attained? Have you reached the level of madness, for whether arahant or whatever else it's a real nuisance." This time he announced: "The other night I thought wrongly I had attained so I blew the whistle to call you and tell you for I was very glad. But then tonight I examined and found that I had not attained so I had to blow the whistle so as to let you know that in truth I had not attained." The two Bhikkhus saw the funny side of it and felt sorry about the madness of this "whistling arahant." They told other Bhikkhus until it became a well-known story.

There is another story about this Bhikkhu, for one day he was sitting in meditation and saw a disc of light like the sun as big as a coconut falling down in front of him. His Citta had attained Samadhi and saw light, and it went out following it. The light moved away so he got up from where he was sitting and followed it without knowing what he was doing. The light went up a tree and he went up following it also. The light then floated up into the sky and disappeared. Then his awareness returned and he realised that he was up a tree and he wept until other Bhikkhus came running to see and to help him to get down. Then they asked him all about it and they heard that Samadhi had led him to float up into this tree.

More than two years ago, a Samanera told me a story when I was staying in a certain Wat. This Samanera came up to see me at the same time as another Bhikkhu, and he (the Samanera) told about knowing various things.45 I listened right through until he had finished and then I said: — Samanera, you must be careful; you will grasp at shadows or go up a tree following a light." I did not know what this Samanera had been like in the past, but later on someone told me that this Samanera had already led some Bhikkhus to follow a light. The light led him into the forest and the Samanera ran after it and called the Bhikkhus to come and help to catch this light and he got those Bhikkhus who did not know about this to follow him and search for this light. There was a lot of noise and commotion until a Bhikkhu who was there and knew about him came to see and stopped it and dispersed them.

Truly speaking, this type of Citta is not found in many people; in fact only about five percent are like this. If they are under the right teacher, people of this sort are good and they have adventurous natures. I have also been of this kind, but I did not send the Citta out externally for I knew what it was up to — light shooting up as though flying up into the sky, so strong it seemed that if one should die at that time there would have been nothing left to cremate.46 I knew about it then and withdrew the Citta to its original base. As soon as the Citta saw this it immediately died away. The "owner" must go through many mad things like this, then he will know about various things concerning those who practice, enough for his needs and he can correct people without going off the path or flying up into the sky — even without wings!

At one time I was sitting doing meditation in a shelter in a village, in a place where there was a very fierce "Pob"47 which could even possess a Bhikkhu. I was doing meditation in the forest at 4.00 o'clock in the morning, and saw a person coming whom the villagers had said was the "Pob." His eyes were shifty and restless and he came in to where I was resting and then walked off to another village. While doing meditation I did not know where I was and as soon as the ghost came and met me while I was sitting in Samadhi meditation I ducked and then my body fell down with a thump. When I became aware of myself I was very amused for I knew that the Citta had done this to me, but I did not tell anyone about it.

Whatever one sees and feels one must examine with wisdom to find out for sure what it is and one must find the way to cure it. If anything comes one's way and one assumes that it is absolutely real and true, one will deludedly go wrong. One must know for oneself and examine oneself constantly. If one does not know one cannot teach others.

The characteristics of some Cittas are very strange and if they do not have a teacher they will be lost. But if they do have a teacher to give them careful advice, such people can quickly make valuable gains which they can use to advantage. But they must train in mindfulness and wisdom so as to know what the Citta is up to, then it will not be able to get lost and will be of widespread value — more than one would imagine.

The Citta and the objects (Arammana) of the Citta are quite bizarre and it is difficult to describe what truly happens. But in the case of those who have similar characteristics, who also practice Dhamma and who have had similar experiences, they can speak together and understand each other. This is like people who learn a technical subject and can speak together about it, whereas others cannot understand.

Questions and Answers

Q1 W1:

In England there are no good Acariyas living here so what should we do about it?


If there is no Acariya available one must practice Samadhi on one's own and investigate (examine) so as to keep up with it — and one must do it a lot. If the Citta which has tendencies of wanting to know about external things that happen while doing Samadhi, is released and allowed to go out externally to oneself — in other words going out to know and see various things, one may think that one has gained the "Deva ear" (Clairaudience), the "Deva eye" (Clairvoyance), or whatever else. If one examines this without hurrying to believe immediately that this is true, one will see which is the Citta creating its own fantasy and which is the truth. But the best way is to turn round and examine oneself, and then nothing doubtful or questionable will happen. The important thing in practicing for the proper development of one's Citta in the initial stages of practice is to keep the Citta to oneself and not to let it go out externally, for if one does, various Nimittas48 may arise to the Citta and one will not be able to follow them and know what they are up to and this can lead one to lose one's footing. But when one has become skilled at practice there are no problems.

Q2 M1:

If one attains Upacara Samadhi and something happens, how should one correct it?


One should go and report to one's teacher and let him know all about it. In this instance I do not wish to give any answer because it will not be of any value, so I will pass on to the next question.

Q3 W2:

In this country there are books about Dukkha, Anicca, and Anatta. When one has learned too much of these things, finally one tends not to understand what is what.


In learning and knowing things that are much too high, knowledge may reach the level of space, which is possible and then one does not understand what is what, because it is too subtle. Taking note and learning is different from the truth of the thing. We know by means of taking note and learning whereas the Noble Disciples (Ariya Puggala) know by means of truth, and so they can abandon Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta and go free from Dukkha in such a way that they come to the end of attachment as illustrated in the following story: — Once a mother and her child went to catch fish, and both of them were groping in the mud looking for fish when the child unknowingly grasped a snake and raised it up to show his mother. His mother knew the danger but her mindfulness was equal to the situation and she said to the child, "That's a fine fish, keep hold of it tightly and don't let go of it, and I will come and help you." So the child held the neck of the snake tightly and as soon as his mother reached him she hit the snake and killed it. Then she told her child: "That was not a fish but a poisonous snake, but if I had told you before, you may have been afraid and let it go and it would have turned and bitten you, so I had to use this method."

This story is an allegory for people who practice Dhamma. In other words, if one reads a lot then one will begin to go from Atta to Anatta to not grasping or believing anything until one has no principles to take hold of. One must hold on and use Atta while one is practicing Dhamma in successively higher levels in the same way as one takes hold of a ladder and goes up step by step. Having passed any one step one does not hold on to that rung and try to carry it with one. Thus one goes up until one reaches the room at the top where one wants to go. Then one leaves the ladder behind without trying to hold on to it. So one goes into the room and rests and relaxes happily. This is the way with Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta, for finally one discards them, but one cannot discard them before this because one must depend on them to go up step by step, discarding each previous step until one is able to discard the lot, holding nothing.

Q4 W7:

Where is the best place to send letters to Tan Acharn?


Send them to Songserm Service, 89 Phosri Road, Udorn Thani, Thailand. They will bring them out quickly because they are used to receiving mail for the Wat.

Discussion in the Morning

Friday, 21st June 1974
In the morning after eating food.

Q1 W1:

At 4.00 a.m. this morning I was at home and heard the sound of Tan Acharn talking but I did not know what was said. I got up and had a look round but did not see anyone. Later I thought of questioning him, then I sat looking in my mirror but did not see myself and I received a feeling as if Tan Acharn answered me that, "You should not think about this, then things will be right by themselves." Then when I was sitting in the train I thought of a question that I wanted to ask and just now K.Y. Sermsri translated the words of Tan Acharn for me to hear — I feel that Tan Acharn has answered me very fast. (She burst into tears.)


Tears come when various things happen such as when smoke gets in one's eyes, when one is very happy or very sad, but the important thing is the intention.

Q2 W1:

Last evening to begin with Tan Acharn gave a talk putting his heart into it and I felt the earnestness of it very much and I was very glad that I had learned something important and I determined to accept the practice. After that Tan Acharn told some funny stories to reduce the tension and I gradually felt less tense. Then I felt that Tan Acharn was telling those funny stories to warn me and finally I felt happy that Tan Acharn was interested and was carefully helping my Citta.


(Tan Acharn remained silent and made no comment. But he said to K.Y. Sermari afterwards that he had in fact intended to do as the questioner said.)

Q3 W2:

I have done Anapanasati knowing the outgoing breath and knowing the incoming breath and I have found that my Citta cannot get calm. It feels as if it was about to enter a door but it does not enter.


If you follow the breath going in and out, this is the kind of result that is produced. One should "define" the breath at that point where it is felt most clearly and at one place one should feel that the breath is entering or leaving, passing by that one point. If you do it in this way you will not feel as if you are going in and out of a door as you said.

Q4 W3:

My Citta is the same as that of the first questioner in that I am anxious and concerned for other people. It is difficult to take hold of my Citta and make it stay in one place so as to get calm. How should I correct it?


When the Citta goes out to other places and when the owner knows that this is the case, it stops. Then the Citta is set up anew once again to do the practice. As soon as it goes out again one knows and it stops and one calls it back in to do the work that one has set it to do. Make it return often and it will tend to remain and one can attain calm.

Twelfth Meeting [go to top]

Friday Evening, 21st June 1974

Dhamma Talk

(To begin with Tan Acharn talked with those Thai people who had come. He talked about people who live off Buddhism, such as those who get photographs or pictures of various Acariyas and sell them. After this he gave the following talk to all who had come.)

Just now we were speaking about those who do harm to Buddhism, either intentionally or unintentionally. Things which are wrong always were wrong, but they are things which have already happened in the past arising from things which are true, or deceptive, genuine or artificial, and internal or external.

Truly speaking, they arise only in the heart, for there is a great deal of deceptiveness in each of our hearts, including the one who is telling you this at present who has been like this and known about himself because of his training in mindful awareness — or, because of having studied constantly the state of his Citta. Thus he was able to know which things are deceptive and which are true.

Generally speaking there are only deceptive things constructed so that we deludedly go after them without being in the least aware that they are super-deceptions. For in fact we think that they are entirely true so we believe in them and go after them without putting up any counter-reaction at all as a means of resisting or proving this kind of thinking. For example a person sits in meditation and in the first three seconds he feels that it is true. He fixes his attention on Buddho... Buddho... and he feels that it is the true Buddho for four or five seconds, until he reaches one minute and then all the false things start to flow from the Citta more and more, giving birth to children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, branching and spreading out and all of it is deception. Meanwhile the word "Buddho" has disappeared, where to one does not know, and all that is left is the story of emotionally charged objects and situations (Arammana) with which he has been used to thinking and imagining and deceiving himself. This is the means by which he is dragged away without being aware of it and after that, assenting to go along fascinated at once, going off engrossed with these false things.

"Buddho" then disappears and Anapanasati is silent — even though he is still breathing — but it is silent as regards paying attention, silent as regards the way of fixing his attention with determination and with mindfulness — all this has disappeared into silence. As soon as he is able to recollect himself, he says; "I have done meditation for long enough but I did not see any result arise whatsoever: why was that?" It is right that thoughts of this sort should arise, but then he goes wrong again. In other words, thoughts such as this are as if to say that he sees the fault in himself, but he does not think: "I did not practice meditation for this sort of result, but for some other kind of result of what sort I don't know." For this would call his attention to the fact that he should have mindfulness! But he returns to his previous state of delusion — again, saying: "...I have sat for a long time and I think I will rest for a short while and after I get up I will really have a go at it." But he does not sleep for a short while nor just a little, for as soon as he goes to sleep he sleeps deeply until the sun has risen, and when he wakes: "Oh goodness!" The next day he does it again and so it goes on deceitfully, continually.

The next day it starts off with three seconds at the beginning and four seconds the day after, and so on getting worse steadily. This is the way of those who are super-deceptive. Apart from this he also harms himself saying: "Here, I have been practicing meditation for a long time and I do not see that I have gained anything in thoughts or virtue and why should I go on doing this meditation? It is most likely that I am a person with unfortunate tendencies of character with little merit and little virtue which are not appropriate to the way and the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha, for if I go on doing this it will not lead to anything of value and it will be nothing but a waste of time. It is better to stop entirely!"... and this, without ever thinking whether stopping like this is truly better or whether stopping meditation is truly a good thing. For if it was truly good, people all over this world who never do any meditation ought to be good people since long ago. Again, one can return and think: "How can stopping be better than doing meditation? For having done this meditation and not yet seen any results, if I stop in what way will it truly be better? From what did the lack of results come?... Just from myself... It cheats me continually, for what is false externally and false within the Citta finds it good to stay there.

Whatever things are false, those which are false within oneself are the important ones. For deceiving oneself is a very important thing which one should examine and investigate. All of you have been cheated and deceived enough already. The owner's heart deceiving the owner. What has been said above briefly is enough to be able to know how much one has been deceived by what is debased. One should know that the first three or four seconds of practice are good but that the next three or four are not, and then one should establish mindfulness and enter the practice again, and go on establishing and re-entering the practice again and again continually. Then the time will come when it knows at once when the Citta displays anything which is going in the wrong direction. One will begin to know what is going against one's intended purpose and when one begins to know one will begin to establish mindfulness and to set the Citta to do the practice anew. Knowing, one enters into the practice again and again, and then later on one "knows" continuously. One comes to know what is unreliable (trivial) and one knows that the lack of those results of the Citta that one wants is because of this?"

As soon as one determines to practice truly and properly the false side of oneself is likely to do the same thing. In other words the Kilesas wait to try and get in during those times when one is off- guard and unmindful. If one has set one's determination, one's posture, and one's direction firmly, they give way. But "give way" here, should not be understood to mean that they give way and lie down like we do! They give way waiting and watching and as soon as and whenever they can get at you, they immediately do so, pouncing on you quicker than a cat after a rat, and then they disappear, silent. They wait to hit and beat and smash in whenever one is off-guard. If one is not off-guard, they do nothing; but when one is over-confident that one is not off-guard, that is when they are sure to be encouraged and one is cheated continually — probably in every instance.

This Acharn who is telling you this at present, has also been like this. Therefore it is important to search for a method and a suitable place for reforming the owner and helping him to practice diligently in many directions and ways as I have written in the "Biography of Tan Acharn Mun" or in "The Practice of Kammatthana in the manner of the Ven. Acariya Mun," or in the book called "Forest Dhamma."

But Bhikkhus are not the same as lay people, for wherever they go it is convenient and comfortable. The place where they practice is convenient and comfortable, because they have only one duty. Like when they go into the forest and hills and frightening places, because there are such places and there truly are various types of fierce animals such as tigers and bears and snakes.

When one goes to stay in such places one's feelings change. For example being lazy in regard to maintaining effort gradually diminishes. One has little laziness, and as soon as one goes into a critical situation all laziness vanishes. I do not know where it goes but one is left with no way out and nowhere to escape to. Then mindfulness comes of itself at once and when one determines to practice with effort, why does one break into a sweat? One sweats because of the fear of death and at such a time mindfulness is good. Sometimes it even happens that a tiger roars repeatedly right by the path one uses for walking "Cankama." This has in fact happened to me and it does not come just to have a talk! It has happened to me many times, how many I don't know, but that tiger roaring there was no small cat — it was a big striped tiger.49

At that moment it seems as if all one's hair stands on end — and why is it that one shivers even though it is not cold? But the Citta is not allowed to withdraw and it goes round and round descending to here (pointing to the heart). Whether one lives or dies, at this time one submits oneself to the Lord Buddha. Now there is just the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha to guard and preserve one's heart and if one's time has truly come, one's Citta is not careless and unguarded and one has submitted one's Citta to the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha in all ways and whenever one goes one is prepared to go. "While I live may I have mindfulness and may I not be caught at a disadvantage. Whatever comes to take me and eat me, so be it, but I will not abandon the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha." The Citta submits completely and as soon as the Citta has submitted to the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, all longing ceases. The longing or cherishing of life is no longer there. Affection and possessiveness for the body have all gone and there remains only the Citta which is single-minded in the way and in Dhamma.

Fear disappears entirely at that time and there is no trace of it left at all. The Citta has concentrated together and plumbed straight down to the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha in the heart completely, and it seems then as if nothing can ever come to disturb one again. When the Citta has plumbed straight down it becomes full of strength and all fear disappears and after that, no matter whether the tiger roars or comes right up in front of one, one feels able to go up to it and stroke it unconcernedly with Metta and sympathy, and a feeling that one has a close friendship with it, because both of us are the same in having birth, old age, pain and death. In feeling this one has not even the slightest thought that the tiger is dangerous and that it may harm one if one were to go and stroke it. When this sort of thing happens there is just a feeling of intimacy and gentleness with Metta for it and therefore all fear disappears.

There are many ways and methods for training and disciplining the Citta. But once one has found a good basis and something which one can use to recollect and reflect upon one may, in the future, bring up this basis and put it into practice. Then wherever one goes to live, in whatever sort of place, when one is at one's wit's end and cornered, that which one has done and gained results from will immediately come to one.

In confronting danger or confronting a situation, each and every time, if one is a "warrior," one is bound to gain an important lesson from it. Unless, that is, one hesitates on the verge and cannot make up one's mind. Then one can go mad because the Citta is uncertain, will not commit itself or accept anything and it vacillates. But if the Citta truly accepts the situation there is nothing which can overpower the Citta which has become attached to Dhamma so that the two are as one, and there will also be a certainty at this time that nothing is able to do any harm to one, whether it be an animal, a tiger, or anything else, or any other danger in the world. One does not fear anything at all of any sort from which one has ever been in danger and which one has ever feared. Thus, the Citta and Dhamma, when they fuse together as one, have power over everything else in the world. For this reason, Dhamma is superior to all the three worlds.

I feel that the power of the Citta is greater than everything in this world. This is the way to train and harass one's deceit — which is linked with the "Great Deceit" that has always been there in one's Citta. If one lives in normal surroundings and does not go to any place where one is cornered with no way out, it will invade and overpower one and destroy everything. But when one goes into a situation where one is cornered with no way out, one equally puts pressure on it — although, generally speaking, the deceit is the one that applies the pressure, and one does nothing to put pressure on it. But if one does put pressure on it, even only once, one will talk about it endlessly, for years without stopping — not stopping until one dies; but then it presses and squeezes one out smooth and one never says anything. Isn't this person showing off his cleverness too much? But in truth it is like this.

In other words, when the Dhamma enters and reaches the heart because of the above-mentioned harassment, one can then talk as though one's mouth is full of words because of this experience which went to one's heart at that time.

In that one trained oneself to the utmost and willingly submitted one's life to "the way and Dhamma" with complete commitment in various circumstances, the result is truly satisfying. As to winning — what is it? It displays a wonder which is also satisfying. How can one ever forget until the day one dies!

That is enough explanation for today, so now we may have some discussion.

(After this was translated nobody raised any questions so Ven. Acariya went on to talk further on Dhamma as follows):

If the Citta has still not seen anything from itself in a time of necessity, it still has not seen the importance of itself, and so it will always take refuge in other people. In the Dhamma that the Lord taught, the saying: "Attahi attano Natho" — "Self is the refuge of self" is still not accepted in the heart. But whenever something happens that thing is completed in a satisfactory way, one will then believe the Dhamma saying — "Attahi attano natho" — in a way that truly impresses the heart.

The Citta that has known and seen the truth at a time when it was at an impasse, with no way out, such as when one has a fever and painful feeling overpowers one, or when one sits for a long time, or when one meets with some incident or other which is a strong or violent thing, maybe threatening one's life, if one is a true "warrior" the Citta goes round all over oneself without thinking of any hope from anything external. That is when the Citta will come to see the importance of oneself each and every time. This is a most wonderful thing, and if one gets past those incidents, one will probably have no anxiety in regard to life and death.

Concerning painful feeling (Dukkha Vedana), in whatever way or in whatever circumstances it arises or happens, the anxiety as to whether one will be able to fight against it or not, where one will be born again after one dies, or the fear that one will be at a disadvantage or that one has wasted one's life for when painful feeling overwhelms the Citta until it reaches a point where it has no mindfulness to help one's heart — then how will it be?... nothing of this sort will then be in the Citta at all. In other words, when it reaches a time of necessity like this, the Citta and mindfulness immediately go in and find each other so as to get into the "front line of battle." One can talk of it like this in truth, because it has fought before and won before and when one has almost reached the time to die, mindfulness and wisdom will quickly find each other.

When something of this sort happens, mindfulness and wisdom join forces and they are not likely to flee or to withdraw but will immediately spin round and go in to fight this that is happening. In such a case, whether one lives or dies one is not willing to be a slave, but rather because of one's faith in Dhamma and faith in oneself one will want to know the truth of this that appears to be happening in the Citta. Faith in Dhamma right here! Where else should one have faith in Dhamma? The text books say it correctly, but if the truth which is the Dhamma in one's heart is not found, there is nothing to confirm them and to act as their witness so as to give one confidence. But as soon as the heart meets up with some incident and it gets to know and see it quite clearly and distinctly, then it shows no disagreement in comparison with the Dhamma which they reveal in the text books.

None of the sages, when they were in times of real necessity, liked to stay where there were many people and much disturbance. They liked to find a place which suited them and which accorded appropriately with the way they practiced and succeeded in gaining results of the kind that come in isolated or lonely places — isolated both in body and heart.

People like us do not act like that. As soon as we begin to get ill, you know how it is: "Oh, where are all my children? Where are all my grandchildren? This child is not looking after me and my grandchildren are not paying any attention to me; where have they all gone to where have all my relations and friends disappeared to? What's this? It's not good for them all to go and lose all interest in me. Who dislikes me? Nobody has any sympathy for me — suffering of life and death and nobody even turns and looks at me." The Citta gets increasingly troubled and they cannot search for some basis to grasp hold of so as to reduce and diminish it by themselves. "My husband before when we lived together, was good, but when I am truly about to die I haven't seen his face here at all. My husband is bad, my children are bad, my grandchildren are bad, they are all bad."

Because it is bad within her heart, the filth which is there is brought out and thrown about externally, making everything filthy. For the "filthy water" in her heart is the fear of death.

Our inadequacy is what goes about throwing filth at other people and venting discontent. This is what is meant by "having nothing as a basic principle (or basis) in the heart." Then we do not think about "Attahi Attano Natho," for our refuge is entirely based in other people.

Having been born we took refuge in other people a long time ago. When a person is born he must, to start with, take refuge in other people, such as mother, father, nursemaid, one person after another, until one comes to teachers, professors, and so on. Then afterwards one still wants to go on taking refuge in other people until one reaches the day of one's death without ever having the least thought of taking refuge in oneself. Therefore it is a difficult thing, and it remains difficult to the day of one's death and one can neither set up or establish any principle or basis within one's heart at all.

The Lord Buddha taught that one should take refuge in oneself — Attahi Attano Natho." As for taking refuge in other people, one is already doing that as much as is necessary to have got the resulting value from others, or enough anyway to give oneself strength so that one will be able to take refuge in oneself in the future. This is an important principle that Buddhists should constantly keep in mind.

Various activities are taught by mother and father, by teachers and professors, by the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, and one should get the method from the knowledge and understanding which one has studied and learned and put it into practice as someone who is endowed with effort and energy so as to be able to help oneself. When one has seen the importance of oneself, other things seem unimportant and one lets go of them all. That is the way of the Citta of somebody that has been trained, for when it is having a truly bad time, it will shake off everything whether relatives, friends, or anyone else, and it will not want them to come and be a nuisance at all. One only has this duty to do and no other, to let the Citta whirl round and down into it, because one has no longing or yearning for anything in this world. Earth, water, air, fire — one has examined these and seen quite clearly that everything in this world is composed of earth, water, air, and fire, and even though they are combined together, things are still only combinations of earth, water, air, and fire.

We all give them names such as the body, oneself, one's possessions, this or that, and so on endlessly, but things of this nature do not exist — and when they reach the time to die they also do not exist, for they are going to do nothing but break up.

The mindfulness and wisdom which one has developed by training separates out the elements (Dhatu) and Khandhas with complete clarity. Everything of all kinds are examined completely in the light of truth. Then the Citta is true, the elements are true, feeling (Vedana), memory (Sañña), thought (Sankhara), and consciousness (Viññana) or whatever else, are true. Everything of all kinds are true and there is no disturbance and one can pass by contentedly this being "Sugato" — going well. There is nothing in one's surroundings which is a disturbance or troublesome, one does not create Dukkha and difficulty for oneself or others, and one has supreme happiness and contentment.

When one dies there is no need to chant "Kusala Dhamma, Akusala Dhamma,"50 nor to invite Bhikkhus to the funeral thereby disturbing everyone. This is what I say and Venerable Boowa of Wat Pa Ban Tard speaks like this with certainty. "Make up your minds!" I have been constantly telling them this giving talks in this way and teaching relatives and lay people. I have developed myself and trained myself and I have been ordained many Vassa already and I am still developing just Kusala Dhamma, trying to develop Kusala.

Whoever wants Kusala Dhamma should develop it themselves. After one has died those who are still living go about collecting Bhikkhus to give merit and Kusala Dhamma. They chase after the Bhikkhus who have gone into the forests and wild places and it is all a disturbing nuisance and I don't want it to be like that. In gaining Kusala — the skill (cleverness) which is put into one's Citta — "Kusala" meaning skill here — one must search for it and get enough. The method which will bring happiness and contentment to oneself one should try and do from now on. After one is dead, for them to go and invite Bhikkhus to come and chant "Kusala Dhamma..." which just becomes a nuisance to the Bhikkhus is no good. It is contrary to the purpose of Buddhism which teaches people to be clever, to look for what is good and to make it part of themselves while they are still alive, so that when one has reached one's time one is "Sugato" and one goes on in the way of one who is cured of worry.

When one has reached the end point and the time comes to die — or at least, when Grandfather Boowa dies — please do not invite Bhikkhus to come and don't make trouble for them. For if Grandfather Boowa has been doing Kusala Dhamma, since the day of starting practice until now and if he is still stupid, he is beyond help, so let him alone die and it will only be Grandfather Boowa who sinks. But do not let other people come and be stupid also. In this I am speaking bluntly, for this is the way I talk to my followers and it is the truth also. I am never concerned about anything and when the time comes to get rid of this lot then I will get rid of it with pleasure and die easily and entirely free from anxiety.

The whole world embraces the elements and Khandhas and when the time comes to die and to abandon them "Oh, sadness, sorrow, and grief" everywhere they do not want to accept death. When the body is dead they want it to live, and when the time for death has come they do not want to go. It is all troublesome so do not let it be like this. The Lord Buddha thus let us know the truth; "When the time has come to go, then go. But when the time has not come to go, then live." If there is any orange juice and sweet drinks bring them over, if it is still not the time I will drink them all. But when one is about to die, don't come and be a nuisance, for then one will drop it — it is much too heavy — "Bhara have Pañcakkhandha"51 — and having dropped it, going along in the true natural way, and having passed on contentedly, one comes to the ultimate fulfillment of one who practices." The Lord Buddha was like that and so were the Savakas, and we have followed the footprints of the Lord Buddha — how else could it be? Without doubt it must be this way.

There! That's enough, I have given two talks already. From tomorrow I shall no longer be here for I will return to Thailand, I will think of all my brothers and sisters here. That I came this time and determined to come and meet and help people here is because of thinking only of the heart and this is why Tan Acharn came to England. I did not come for any worldly purposes at all, for whether staying in my Wat or any other Wat or going to any place in Thailand, I never think of going for worldly purposes, and I never have it in mind to go for goods or money or wealth, but I go for the Cittas of people so that they may gain something of value. In coming to England I also have a feeling of fulness in my heart in the same way. Intentions are more important than anything else. If one's intentions are good, everything else of all kinds are also good, but if one's intentions are not good, everything is spoilt and goes wrong accordingly. Therefore in coming to visit my brothers and sisters in London, I came with "heart"52 and when I go I shall think of your "heart." If our fortunes should cross, in due course we may come here again or some of you here may go over there. In other words you may go to visit us out there or we may come from there to visit you here. This world is round and the hearts of beings in this world are whirling about in the round of Samsara with all the defilement which lead them round to birth and round to death endlessly. Therefore please, all of you, try to make your Citta become free from the round of Samsara. Then it will be absolutely contented and there will be no need to go round and round.

This is enough explanation of Dhamma for today so I will stop. Those of you who have anything in your hearts that you want to ask may do so now. Tomorrow there will be no time in the morning, for we will eat early and then must go.

Questions and Answers

Q1 M1:

If one trains and practices Dhamma and then one knows that one has Dukkha continually going on and on, what result will one get?


Usually one sees Dukkha in those things where one finds great difficulties. As to one's satisfactions, these are seen to be Sukha. As soon as there is some change away from one's satisfactions, one sees that as Dukkha, and one does not have the wisdom to cure that Dukkha. Finally, one lies down submerged with no interest in searching for the way out because one considers that trying to search for the way out from Dukkha is difficult. Therefore one must submit to Dukkha being one's friend all the time.

The training and practice of Dhamma so as to know Dukkha as it truly consists in using meditation and wisdom to examine how to train the Citta to draw out the Kilesas until one finds the taste of happiness in the Citta. This is bound to help one find true and genuine happiness and to get a basic principle to hold firmly in the heart no matter what the circumstances are.

Q2 W1:

When one meditates using "Buddho" is it necessary to sit doing meditation?


One can do it in all positions. The Lord Buddha did not teach people so that they should get into a tight fix in fighting with everything evil, but he taught people to have skill (cleverness) so as to win constantly. We therefore should think and search for the way to be clever and to be the victor, following the Lord. The Dhamma which has been displayed here is ninety five per cent "Forest Dhamma." I have explained the importance of meditation to help keep the Citta within itself, so do not let the Citta go out externally. For the Citta which has a nature that likes to go out externally, doing the meditation "Buddho" constantly can help a great deal in curing the problem.

The Fat Lady who generally asked Tan Acharn many questions:

I would like to give the highest thanks to Tan Acharn who has kindly come and helped us very much in increasing our knowledge and understanding.


I am very sorry that I cannot speak English and let you understand directly. Speaking via an interpreter usually makes it less interesting, because it may not be complete as it would be if explained directly in the same language.

Glossary [go to top]

  • Abyakata, Avyakata: Neutral Kamma. Kamma that is not good (Kusala) or bad (Akusala)

  • Acariya, Acharn: Acharn is the Thai derivation of Acariya which means "Teacher."

  • Akusala: Bad, unhealthy, wrong or evil in regard to actions (Kamma).

  • Anagami: See Ariya.

  • Anapanasati: The meditation in which one focuses one's attention and mindfulness on the feeling of the breath going in and out at one point such as the tip of the nose.

  • Anatta, Anicca: See Ti-Lakkhana.

  • Arammana: The object which is presented to the Citta at any moment. This object is derived from the 5 senses or direct from the mind (memory, thoughts, feeling). It is not the external object (in the world) but that object after having been processed by one's preconceptions and predispositions.

  • Ariya: One who has gained the Path (Magga) leading to Nibbana. This includes the Sotapanna, the Sakadagami, the Anagami, and arahant. Each stage involves the elimination of some major defilements (Samyojana) until the arahant eliminates them all.

  • Ayatana: Spheres of sensation. They include the internal Ayatana — eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and heart — and the external Ayatana — the spheres of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and mind.

  • Bhavana: The practice of training one's Citta by developing the various aspects of meditation.

  • Bhavanga: That underlying stream of continuity which the Citta drops to when it goes completely calm and still. It may be called the underlying basis of the "Self" concept and it is that which leads to future births.

  • Bhumi: The ground or basic foundation of the Citta. Thus Arahatta Bhumi is the basic state of the arahant's Citta.

  • Cankama: Walking back and forth, usually as a mode of meditation practice.

  • Citta: Mind, heart, consciousness (in some senses). It is that basis in a person which is "central" whereas everything else including all five Khandhas are peripheral.

  • Dhamma: The ultimate meaning of Dhamma is not definable in words but it lies in the direction of "Truth" or "Reality." The more usual meaning is that of the Buddha Dhamma or Sasana Dhamma which is that teaching which leads to the ultimate Dhamma.

  • Dhatu: The four elements of earth, water, fire, and air.

  • Dukkha: Discontent, suffering, pain, anxiety, anguish, etc.

  • Jhana: Various levels of Samadhi which some people can attain. They include the 4 Rupa (Form) Jhanas and the 4 Arupa (Formless) Jhanas.

  • Kammatthana: (Kamma - action, thana - a basis). That object or subject of meditation which leads one to gain skill in Samadhi and Pañña. Many meditation Bhikkhus in Thailand talk of their way of practice and behavior as being the way of Kammatthana.

  • Khandha: Heaps or groups. Technically this always refers to the five Khandhas: body (Rupa Khandha), feeling (Vedana Khandha), memory (Sañña Khandha), thought (Sankhara Khandha), consciousness (Viññana Khandha). These are the five groups that form what we call a person.

  • Kilesas: Defilements based on greed, hatred, and delusion. Also including conceit, opinionatedness, uncertainty, torpidity, restlessness, lack of conscience, lack of fear of the consequences of doing wrong and whatever else tends to the production of bad, unwholesome states.

  • Kusala: Whatever is healthy (mentally) or good.

  • Metta: Friendliness or love (in the more platonic sense).

  • Nama: Those four groups that make up the mind. Nama is usually paired with Rupa, the two together being the same thing as the five Khandhas.

  • Nibbana: That which is attained when the Kilesas have all been entirely dispersed.

  • Niyyanika: "Leading out of." Often descriptive of the Buddha Dhamma as leading out of Samsara.

  • Pañña: Wisdom.

  • Parikamma: A preparatory meditation, such as repetition of "Buddho" or setting up one's mindfulness on breathing.

  • Patisandhi: Re-uniting. Patisandhi Viññana is that form of consciousness which is similar to Bhavanga Citta, but which occurs at death, thereby leading the Citta to re-unite with the Khandhas in a new birth.

  • Rupa: Form. The literal meaning is "shape" or visual form. But it is often used to refer to the physical body — as in Rupa Khandha.

  • Sacca Dhamma: Dhamma Truth. Usually refers to the Four Noble Truths: Dukkha, Samudaya (the origin of Dukkha), Nirodha (the ceasing of Dukkha), and Magga (the path leading to the ceasing of Dukkha).

  • Sakadagami: See Ariya.

  • Samadhi: A state of calm attained by meditation practice. It has many levels depending on the degree of absorption of the Citta with the object of the meditation.

  • Samapatti: The attainment of Jhana.

  • Samatha: Calm.

  • Sammuti: Convention. The mundane world in the sense that it is made up of relative conventions.

  • Samsara: The universe of birth and death including all possible realms of life.

  • Samudaya: See Sacca Dhamma.

  • Sankhara: As Sankhara Khandha it means thoughts or imaginations by putting together sense perceptions, memories, and feelings. The more general sense of the meaning of Sankhara is those parts of factors which make up any object or state.

  • Saññavedayitanirodha: - The cessation of Sañña (memory) and Vedana (feeling). This is the ultimate level of subtlety which can be attained by Samadhi, and is one stage beyond the highest Arupa Jhana.

  • Sarana: A refuge. The well-known Ti-Sarana (3 refuges) are the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha.

  • Sati: Mindfulness.

  • Savaka: Literally "hearer." One who heard the Dhamma from the Buddha.

  • Savaka arahant: Those Savakas who attained arahantship at the time of the Lord Buddha.

  • Sila: Moral behavior.

  • Sotapanna: Stream attainer. See Ariya.

  • Sukha: Pleasure or happiness, contrasted with Dukkha.

  • Svakkhata: Svakkhata Dhamma, the well-taught Dhamma.

  • Tan: This is a Thai word meaning Venerable. Thus: Tan Acharn; Ven. Acariya.

  • Tathagata: The "Thus-gone," meaning the Buddha.

  • Ti-Lakkhana: The three marks of all phenomena: anicca (non-permanence), Dukkha (unsatisfactoriness), and Anatta (not-self).

  • Upadana: Grasping, attachment.

  • Vimutti: Freedom (antonym of Sammuti).

  • Viññana: Consciousness.

  • Vipaka: The result or fruition of Kamma.

  • Vipassana: Insight wisdom. Synonymous with Pañña.

Notes [go to top]

1. The Vihara in Haverstock Hill Road is now no longer there. The property was disposed of when the Sangha moved to Chithurst in Sussex.

2. The letters and numbers in the margins opposite the questions have the following meanings. "Q" = question, numbered Q1, Q2, etc.; "A" = answer. "W" means that a woman asked the question, and "M" means that a man asked the question. The numbers W1, W2, etc., and M1, M2, etc., refer to the first, second, or third, etc., woman or man to ask a question.

3. "Flow of the Citta" refers to the dynamic way in which the Citta flows from one thing to another at great speed and how when the interest or will are strong or weak, the concentration of the Citta also becomes strong or weak.

4. Meaning perhaps past and present Buddhists, or human and deva.

5. Outside the body — thinking about or surveying external things.

6. This is otherwise translated as a stake or post and means a foundation or anchor point.

7. "Sorrow and weariness of oneself" means sorrow at one's own faults which one then sees, and weariness of the Dukkha of this state. This leads to detachment — Nibbida. This is not the same as "sorrow and weariness" which are Kilesas and lead one to blame the world, and to feel depressed and bored.

8. Bhavanga — that state which the Citta reverts to when undisturbed.

9. Patisandhi (Viññana) is that consciousness which leads the Citta to re-unite with the Khandas in a new birth (See Glossary).

10. Dosa = hate. Root (mula) is descriptive of a condition in the Citta which is "planted" by some forms of Kamma in the past.

11. Vatta Citta — the Citta in Samsara. Vatta — the "round" of Samsara. Vivatta — "disentanglement" from Samsara.

12. This is, of course, the state of arahant.

13. When practicing Samadhi the Citta will be in one state, but when one turns to the practice of wisdom (pañña) it does not keep the object of Samadhi (Samadhi Arammana) but turns to an object of wisdom (Pañña Arammana) with many changes. However, when it becomes necessary to take a rest in calm, the Citta should be able to revert to the practice of Samadhi as before. (Answer to a question asked of Ven. Acharn Maha Boowa to clarify the meaning of this sentence.)

14. Acharn Maha Boowa has said elsewhere that Maha-Sati and Maha-Pañña can be taken to mean "automatic" mindfulness and wisdom.

15. In other words one's Citta will tell one how to do things and what to believe more surely than any other person.

16. Koan — a word or phrase for repetition and contemplation as used in "Zen Buddhism."

17. "Standing" means the type of life one has taken up, the extent of one's commitment, the practice one does, and the goal which one wishes to attain.

18. i.e., they do not rely on any other thing for their affirmation.

19. It is not stated which method is referred to but probably Anapanasati as discussed in one of the previous talks.

20. Savakas — (lit. Hearers of Dhamma) the successful disciples of the Lord Buddha.

21. These three are levels of scholarship attained by those who learn and pass exams in Pali studies.

22. The answer to this question up to this point has been altered from that given in the Thai text. Tan Acharn Maha Boowa said that there were mistakes in the Text and these have been corrected in the translation.

23. Nama Dhamma — those factors which make up "Mind." Nama is usually paired with Rupa (body) which is the first of the 5 Khandhas. The remaining four are called the Nama Khandha.

24. Unbiased — means that the Dhamma takes no account of persons, but only of cause and effect.

25. Eka — one (not two).

26. Ti-Lakkhana — the three characteristics of all phenomena — Anicca (impermanence), Dukkha (unsatisfactory), Anatta (not-self).

27. The literal translation from Thai which is usually rendered in English as "reason" is "cause/effect" or "cause/result."

28. The Thai word used here for "meaning" also has the underlying connotation of "conventional acceptance" or "definition."

29. It is traditionally said that there are "84,000 Dhammakkhandas" — sayings or verses of Dhamma in the whole of the Ti-pitaka.

30. Tan Acharn said this in English.

31. This is a translation of the question as rendered in Thai. But the question does not seem to be very meaningful and there is some doubt whether this was the original form of it.

32. See note 29.

33. Basis to hold on to (Luk yert) — lit. a stake or post for holding on to. It can also mean principles to hold on to.

34. Arammana — object as perceived by the heart. This can, for example, be a sensed object plus the associated emotional bias.

35. Deep rooted characteristics.

36. Characteristic tendencies of perfection.

37. Tendencies of Character. Vasana always has the connotation of "good" characteristics.

38. Vipaka — results of Kamma.

39. "Actions" — in this paragraph means action of the Citta, "creative will," or volition. "Movements" means the subsequent mental, verbal or physical activity which is set in motion by the "Action."

40. Lit.: Principle of Dhamma — i.e., that understanding of Dhamma which is inherent as part of one's character.

41. i.e., between the 4th Rupa and 1st Arupa Jhanas.

42. Eka Citta, Eka Dhamma — one Citta, one Dhamma.

43. The cremation ground associated with most thai villages is quite primitive, consisting typically of bamboo forest with clearings in between clumps of bamboos. There are usually no buildings at all and the cremation is carried out on open fires built of a pile of logs. In fact the only external evidence that it is a cremation ground is the remaining ashes from past fires.

44. This story comes from a book which is used in Thailand as a school study book. It was originally translated into Thai from English, and the English version was in turn translated from German having been written by Karl Adolph Gjellerup, a Danish Nobel prize writer. The original book was titled "Der Pilger Kamanita" and it is based on the life of the Lord Buddha, His Dhamma and stories from various Suttas. (For this information I am indebted to Mr. Chuan Sornsongkram of the Chuan Printing Press — Ven. Paññavaddho).

45. This means "Knowing by psychic means."

46. This is just an exclamation and must not be taken literally.

47. A kind of ghost which enters people and lives on the vitality of the person so that the person grows weak and eventually dies — said to be common in Thailand.

48. An image produced in mind, usually visual or audible. It is generally produced by one's own mind and appears to be quite real — like a dream image.

49. The Thai word "Seua" covers most of the larger cat family, so prior to this it is not certain whether a tiger or leopard or panther, etc., is referred to.

50. This is the chant from the Dhammasangini matika and is nearly always chanted at funerals. It is composed of a list of the possible states of consciousness, the first two being "Kusala dhamma" (good states of mind) and "Akusala dhamma" (bad states of mind).

51. "The five Khandhas (groups which form body and mind) are a heavy burden."

52. Heart means here "goodwill," "good intention," "a good attitude" or "to do with the heart," but there is no exact English equivalent.


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