Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta Part 2
- The Foundations of Mindfulness

Venerable Bhante Vimalaramsi
Talk presented 22 Feb-06 at
Ruth Denisonís Dhamma Dena Vipassana Center, Joshua Tree, California

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


TT: 00:26

BV: Ok, we have the last two foundations to go through, and I think youíll find this quite interesting. This is the mindfulness of mind, cittānupassanā.


34. "And how, monks, does a monk abide contemplating mind as mind? Here a monk understands mind affected by lust as mind affected by lust, and mind unaffected by lust as mind unaffected by lust. He understands mind affected by hate as mind affected by hate, and mind unaffected by hate as mind unaffected by hate. He understands mind affected by delusion as mind affected by delusion, and mind unaffected by delusion as mind unaffected by delusion.

BV: Question. What is delusion? Itís taking everything that arises personally. A deluded mind is a mind that doesnít see the true nature of everything that arises, itís part of impermanence, itís part of thought, but, it is seeing the thought and feeling as being me, "This is who I am, this is what I think, this is what I feel." Not seeing the true nature of existence, which is arising and passing away continually, and not seeing the impersonal nature of whatever arises. Iím going to ask you a lot of questions on this section, soÖ

MN: He understands contracted mind as contracted mind

BV: What is a contracted mind? A contracted mind is a mind that has sloth and torpor in it. Itís a mind that pulls in and gets lost in a dream world.

MN: and distracted mind as distracted mind.

BV: What is a distracted mind? Thatís a mind that has restlessness in it. Because itís distracted, itís always going away from your object of meditation.

MN: He understands exalted mind as exalted mind,

BV: What is an exalted mind? A mind in a jhāna. Now this is not just any of the jhānas, this is one of the first four jhānas. These are called exaulted states of mind.

Now, did you ever realize that the Satipaṭṭhanā Sutta is talking about jhānas? I was always taught that it was talking about mindfulness, and it was never explained to me.

MN: and unexalted mind as unexalted mind.

BV: Thatís pretty easy, itís a mind that doesnít have any jhāna in it. Now remember that jhāna does not mean concentration. Jhāna means a stage of development in the meditation, itís just a stage. And itís a stage of your understanding of the process of Dependent Origination.

MN: He understands surpassed mind as surpassed mind,

BV: What is a surpassed mind? A surpassed mind is a mind that experiences the arupa jhānas.

TT: 05:06

S: ~

BV: Arupa jhānas. The arupa jhānas are different aspects of the fourth jhāna. Now, when you talk about, in the eight-fold path, the last part of the eight-fold path, is called sammā samādhi. Sammā samādhi is always defined as the experience of one of the four jhānas. But in that, it also includes the arupa jhānas. The arupa jhānas are: infinite space; infinite consciousness; nothingness; neither-perception-nor-non-perception. These are exalted states, these are very, very fine states of attention, where your awareness of the mindís attention becomes very, very precise and very exact, and you get to see everything very clearly. And itís just different stages of clarity when we get into the arupa jhānas. Now one of the things that had always happened to me when I was practicing vipassanā, straight vipassanā, was I was told that you canít develop insight if youíre experiencing jhāna. But then again, when you look up in the suttas the word insight, or vipassanā, and you look up the word samatha, which means tranquility, and itís always translated as jhāna, then you look at where it tells you those references are, theyíre always in the suttas together. Samatha and vipassanā work hand in hand. They canít be any other way, not of youíre going to experience what the Buddha was talking about.

MN: and unsurpassed mind as unsurpassed mind. He understands collected mind as collected mind, and uncollected mind as uncollected mind.

BV: What is a collected mind? A collected mind, they have, in this translation, they use the word concentrate a lot. But I found in this country, concentration always means some form of absorption, some form of deep concentration, of undistractedness, so I choose to change the definition of that a little bit, because itís not very well understood that a concentrated mind can also be a very calm mind, a still mind, but a mind thatís still fully alert, not just absorbed into one thing. So I choose to use the word "collected", rather than "concentrated". Iíve even gone so far sometimes to say that thatís like one of the four letter words you donít ever say again.


MN: He understands liberated mind as liberated mind, and unliberated mind as unliberated mind.

BV: What is a liberated mind? This is a mind that has experienced, very deeply, the third noble truth, the cessation of suffering. Every time your mind gets distracted away from your object of meditation, the instructions are: let go of that distraction and relax. Let go of the tension caused by that movement of mindís attention.

TT: 10:02

When you let go of that tension, that tightness, your mind, it feels expanded, and then it becomes calm. Right after that your mind is very clear, your mind is pure. Your awareness is very sharp. And you bring that mind back to your object of meditation. You have liberated your mind from the tightness of craving. Youíve let go of the craving. Craving always manifests as tension and tightness in your mind and in your body. So every time you let go of that, youíre experiencing a liberated mind. Whatís an unliberated mind? Thatís when somebodyís practicing one-pointed concentration, their mind gets distracted, they let go of the distraction and immediately come back to your object of meditation. There is no letting go of the craving. Your mind is not liberated at that time.
This particular part of the Satipaṭṭhanā sutta, Iíve had many discussions with Sayadaw U. Silananda about this, and I always questioned him as to why he didnít explain it. Because he was a vipassanā teacher. Well, youíre supposed to explain these things. But if youíre a straight vipassanā teacher, you donít want your students getting into the jhānas, you want them just experiencing what they call the insight knowledges. Which actually as it turns out, by the practice of straight vipassanā, it is a form of absorption concentration. It might be moment to moment, it might be quick kinds of concentration, but itís still concentration, and when mind gets into what they call access concentration, what happens is, the force of the concentration that they have developed, suppresses, pushes down, doesnít allow hindrances to arise, and thatís the main problem. Hindrances are where your attachments are. You havenít purified your mind by suppressing the hindrances. Let me take that back. You purify your mind for the period of time that youíre in access concentration, but you havenít completely purified your mind. Because when you get out of that access concentration, the hindrances come back. And by your not being able to recognize the hindrances so easily, itís very easy to get caught by them. So when youíre practicing watching and relaxing, whenever the hindrance arises, your mind gets distracted and you start thinking about this or that, whatever it happens to think about. That is part of restlessness, thatís a hindrance. How do you handle the hindrance? You let the thought go, you relax the craving, and now you have this pure mind that doesnít have any craving in it. Now when youíre practicing straight vipassanā, they tell you: when your mind gets distracted, watch that distraction until it goes away, and then immediately come back to your attention on the breath. Thereís no relaxing in that, so theyíre bring back the craving, so thereís no true purity of mind, with that kind of practice.

TT: 14:47

I wrote a book called The Anapanasati Sutta theÖ what did I say after that? I canít remember. A Guide to Mindfulness of Breathing Meditation and Tranquility Meditation [The Anapanasati Sutta : A Practical Guide to Mindfulness of Breathing and Tranquil Wisdom Meditation] In that book I described everything Iím talking to you right now. And after I wrote that book. I sent a copy to Sayadaw U. Silananda, and he read the book, and he was impressed enough that he put it on the website. And itís fantastic the number of people that have gone to the book because he did that. He and I had a discussion about the method I was showing in the book, which is what Iím talking about right now, and he agreed that it was a very good method of meditation, and it more explained how you practice the meditation that the Buddha taught. But he said he could never teach that kind of meditation because for forty years heís been teaching the other kind of meditation. Isnít that odd?
Any practice of meditation that you do, if it does not have the letting go and release of craving, then it turns out to be one form or another of absorption concentration. And when you practice absorption concentration, there is no way to be able to see Dependent Origination in the way that it needs to be seen. Now tomorrow, in my Dhamma talk, we will have a discourse thatís one of the most powerful discourses in The Middle Length Sayings. Itís called The Six Sets of Six. And Iím going to read that sutta to you with all of the repeating in it. And the reason Iím going to do that is because that will stick in your mind like you canít believe. And you will be able to see more and more clearly how the process of Dependent Origination works. So thatís what you have to look forward to tomorrow.
Anyway, when weíre talking about contemplation of mind, the cittānupassanā, weíre talking about being able to recognize lust, hatred, delusion, contraction of mind, distraction of mind, exalted mind, surpassed mind, youíre able to see all of these different states as they arise. And they will. All of these different things will arise while youíre doing your practice. What you do with them dictates what will happen in the future. If you let go of the distraction and relax, and bring that relaxed mind back to your object of meditation, you can look forward to being more and more alert to how this process works. Now, for the last two or three Dhamma talks, Iíve talked quite a bit about the five aggregates. I havenít specifically said these are the aggregates, but I have talked about them quite a bit. This process is made up of five things. You have the physical body. Whatís the first part of the Satipaṭṭhanā Sutta? Kāyānupassanā, mindfulness of body. You have feeling Whatís the second part of the Satipaṭṭhanā Sutta? Vedanānupassanā, mindfulness of feeling.

TT: 20:01

You have perception, and depending on your translation, the next one is, in Pāli itís called sankhāra. Bhikkhu Bhodi, in this book, he calls it volition, I call it thought, and all of those are correct. So perception is the mind that puts names on things. You see this, your mind says this is a book. The perception is the mind that recognized that, and it also has memory in it. Now, when we get to the third part here this is cittānupassanā, or mindfulness of mind, that includes the sankhāras, the thoughts, and the volition, and the perception. And the last part of the aggregates is consciousness. And that is very akin to dhammānupassanā, mindfulness of mind objects. So you can see that the five aggregates and the four foundations of mindfulness are actually the same thing. Where we continually cause our self so much suffering is when a feeling arises, we try to think the feeling away. And the more you try to think the feeling, the bigger the feeling becomes, the more intense the intense the feeling becomes, the more pain you are causing yourself. So, whatís the instructions in the meditation? When a feeling arises, itís a pleasant feeling, itís a painful feeling, I wonít go with the rest of them because it doesnít matter. There is craving that arises right after feeling. And craving is always the: "I like it, I donít like it" mind. Craving always manifests as tension and tightness in your mind and in your body. Right after craving is clinging. Clinging is the thoughts, the story, the opinion, the concept about why you like or dislike that feeling. The weak link in Dependent Origination is craving. Why? Because craving is the easiest thing to recognize when it comes up. It always comes up and it does that in your mind and in your body, Thereís tightness, thereís tension. So when a feeling arises, we like it and donít like it, which ever one it happens to be, and then we have thoughts and then we have our habitual tendencies about those thoughts. We always think this way when this kind of feeling arises. So, the first part of the instruction says, when a feeling arises, there are thoughts about the feeling. So what you have to do is let go of the thoughts, donít get involved and caught in the story about, and relax.

TT: 25:07

Next, you see that feeling, and thatís what youíre seeing, just the feeling. Thereís a tight mental fist wrapped around the feeling. Either we like it or we donít like it. And thereís always the want to control the feeling, to make it be the way we want it to be. If itís a painful feeling, we want it to disappear, we want it to stop and we try to push it away as hard as we can. If itís a pleasant feeling, we grab onto that baby and pull it in and try to hold on as tight as we can. But the truth is, when a feeling arises, itís there, and itís ok for the feeling to be there, it has to be ok because thatís the truth. So, you have to let go of that mental hold around the feeling. Now, this feeling can be a contracted mind, it can be a distracted mind. It can be a mind that has lust in it, has hatred in it, doesnít matter. What you do is say: "Ok, that feeling is there and itís fine for it to be there." Now you relax that tension and tightness and come back to your object of meditation. When you treat the feeling in this way, thereís no suffering. Thereís no: "I want it to be different that it is." Thereís no need to control. Thereís seeing what arises as it arises, as it truly is. This is real important stuff. The more you start getting into the habit of relaxing, the more your mind becomes liberated. And thatís what this part of the sutta is all about. And as you get deeper into your practice, you start to experience the candy of the meditation. The Buddha called it the pleasant abiding here and now, the jhāna. But jhāna doesnít mean concentration, it means your level of understanding, your level of your meditation, thatís all, and whether you know which jhāna youíre in or not, doesnít really matter. The only person it matters to is me, so when you come and talk to me about what your experience is, I know how to talk back to you, I know how to say things that can be helpful for you. Again, whatever I say, is suggestion, donít believe what I say, try it and see if it works. If it works, keep it, if it doesnít, throw it away. Iím not attached to the things I say too much. Maybe a little. (Laughs)



35. "In this way he abides contemplating mind as mind internally, or he abides contemplating mind as mind externally, or he abides contemplating mind as mind both internally and externally. Or else he abides contemplating in mind its nature of arising, or he abides contemplating in mind its nature of vanishing, or he abides contemplating in mind its nature of both arising and vanishing.

TT: 29:40

BV: Now with the sutta that I gave the other night, one one one, I showed you all of these different things that Sariputta experienced while he was in the jhāna. And they all arose and pass away, arise and pass away, they didnít all gang up and come up at one time, and thatís how you experience impermanence. And the more clear you become with seeing this as a process of Dependent Origination, the more you truly understand that this is an impersonal process, everything happens because of a cause, itís dependent on the cause. So youíre seeing the true nature of everything when you see it as continually moving and changing, and seeing it as being impersonal.

MN: . . . . And he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world.

BV: How do you not cling to anything in the world? Whatís the definition of clinging? Itís all of your opinions, all of your concepts, all of your thinking and story telling in your mind, and identifying with those opinions and thoughts and that sort of thing. So if you donít want to cling to anything, continually let go of the craving. Why? Because clinging doesnít arise after that. Your mind is pure, you donít have any thoughts in it every time you let go of that craving.

MN: That is how a monk abides contemplating mind as mind.

BV: Now, we get into contemplation of mind objects. And this is real interesting because the first part of this is the five hindrances. Awareness of the hindrances. This particular section tells you exactly how to handle a hindrance when it arises.


(The Five Hindrances)

36. "And how, monks, does a monk abide contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects? Here a monk abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the five hindrances. And how does a monk abide contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the five hindrances? Here, there being sensual desire in him, a monk understands: 'There is sensual desire in me'; or there being no sensual desire in him, he understands: 'There is no sensual desire in me';

BV: Thatís pretty straight forward.

MN: and he also understands how there comes to be the arising of unarisen sensual desire,

BV: How do you understand how there comes to be the arising of unarisen sensual desire? When your mind is on your object of meditation, and it begins to become distracted, what happens is your mind is here and all of a sudden, itís there, and you didnít see that process. All you know is your mind jumped from being on the breath, and relaxing, to having sensual desire in it. How did that happen? What happened first? What happened after that? What happened after that? What happened after that? What youíll be able to see, when your mind is reasonably calm, is that there is more happening than just all of a sudden thereís this distraction. As you let go of the distraction and relax, bringing that pure mind back to your object of meditation, it will go back to that distraction, but now you start working with the enlightenment factor of the investigation of your experience.

TT: 35:03

So, how did your mind jump over here? What you will see is thereís something that happened before your mind got carried away and starts getting involved and really getting caught by the sensual desire. Thereís something that happens right before that. As you are able to see as it keeps pulling back and you relax and you come back, youíll be able to start to become familiar with how this distraction occurs. This is one of the reasons why your hindrances are your best friends, because theyíre showing you where your attachment is. Mind gets pulled away, youíll see this feeling arise right before you start thinking about that sensual desire, whatever that happens to be. So, as you are quote, wrestling with the hindrance, as youíre getting caught by the hindrance, at first you might get caught for a minute or two minutes before you even notice that you are caught, and then you let go of that hindrance, and relax, and bring that attention back to your object of meditation, the nature of the hindrances is that it keeps pulling you back to it, and thatís good. Why? Because every time you get your mind pulled away from your object of meditation, and you notice it, and you relax, and you come back to your object of meditation, you are improving your mindfulness, Youíre improving your observation of the movement of mindís attention. So, itís going to be bouncing back and forth. But as you become more familiar with how this process works, you start to see little things more and more clearly. Now what happens first? And you wonít be able to notice this until, most of you until a little bit later, but youíll notice that your mind is very still on your object of meditation and all of a sudden it starts moving, it starts wobbling. And it wobbles and it wobbles faster and faster and faster and then finally it floats away. Now what this is talking about, is how to be aware of that process. How to be aware of this movement. At first youíre not going to see this at all, and sometimes you might be able to catch just as itís starting to go away and you can let go right then and relax and come back, and youíre not really caught by that hindrance, and sometimes you wonít be able to. So, itís letting go of the hindrance, relaxing, coming back. You might do this a hundred times, you might do it a thousand times, depending on how strong your attachment is to believing that these thoughts and these feelings of sensual pleasure are yours. But as you start looking at this as a process, instead of: "This is me, this is who I am", you start letting go of that ego belief that this is who you are, and you start seeing little parts of this distraction. As you start letting go, as you become more familiar with the distraction, and how it arises, you start catching it a little bit faster. So instead of being distracted for one or two minutes, you might be distracted for thirty seconds. And then as you continue on with that, it might be fifteen seconds. And as you continue on you start seeing the process more clearly, it might be five seconds.

TT: 40:04

As you improve your mindfulness, you will get to the state where you see your mind starting to wobble and you let go right then, your mind doesnít even get distracted. You see this is the importance of having the hindrances, because they are your teacher, Iím not your teacher. The hindrances are your teacher because theyíre showing you very clearly, how mindís attention moves. And when you see it very clearly, you start seeing more and more clearly the little tiny pieces, and youíll start recognizing different parts of the Dependent Origination. Dependent Origination happens fast. Now I know that thereís some commentaries where they talk about Dependent Origination happening over three lifetimes. Thatís wishful thinking. But, (snaps finger) that was a million thought moments, that was a million arising and passing away of the twelve links of Dependent Origination. It happens in a thought moment. As you become more familiar with how that process works, you start educating yourself and teaching yourself how to let go of believing that anything that arises is personal. You start seeing everything as an impersonal process, and that is incredibly freeing and liberating when youíre able to do that.

MN: and he also understands how there comes to be the arising of unarisen sensual desire,

BV: He sees the movement. Thatís how youíre able to see that.

MN: and how there comes to be the abandoning of arisen sensual desire,

BV: How do you abandon the arisen sensual desire? So, itís being able to recognize when your mind is distracted and let go of the distraction and relax and come back.

MN: and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned sensual desire.'

BV: How does that come to be? It is staying on your object of meditation. When you stay on your object of meditation, the hindrance wonít arise. So what we have is we have a distraction that youíre starting to catch a little bit quicker and little bit quicker and little bit quicker. And youíre improving your mindfulness all the time by letting this go and relaxing, coming back to your object of meditation. Eventually, that hindrance doesnít have enough energy to even arise and you mind naturally stays on your object of meditation for longer and longer periods of time. And thatís how you overcome every hindrance. But, the trick is you are on your object of meditation but youíre not holding on to it. If you hold on to your object of meditation, youíre putting in too much energy and too much effort, and you will have one of your friends come to visit, called restlessness. Now this is the same for all of the hindrances. How you treat all of the hindrances, you treat all of the hindrances in the same way. And I call hindrances distractions. So any time your mind gets pulled away, itís distracted. Let go of the distraction, relax, gently come back to your object of meditation.

TT: 45:00

Every time you let go of that tension and tightness, you are experiencing nibbāna. Itís mundane, itís still a worldly kind of nibbāna, but there is no fire in that. Nibānna, ni, no, bānna, fire. And craving is called fire. Itís heat. So, every time you let go of that distraction, doesnít matter which one of the hindrances it is, you let it go and you relax, youíre bringing that pure mind back to your object of meditation. Your mindfulness, your awareness of the movement of mind becomes sharper every time you let go of a distraction, relax and come back. So youíre not caught for as long a period of time, and you start staying on your object of meditation for longer periods of time, and thatís where you start experiencing your jhānas. Investigating constantly improves the mindfulness. See, the whole thing with the enlightenment factors is they have to be in balance. So we can talk about the enlightenment factors in just a minute, actually. Well I go through it because this is just repeating the whole thing, over and over again, and Iíve repeated it plenty of times for you so Iíll give you a break this time (Chuckles)
Ok, Iím going to jump to the seven factors of enlightenment. Weíll go back to the five aggregates and the six bases in just a minute.

MN: (The Seven Enlightenment Factors)

42. "Again, monks, a monk abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the seven enlightenment factors. And how does a monk abide contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the seven enlightenment factors? Here, there being the mindfulness enlightenment factor in him, a monk understands: 'There is the mindfulness enlightenment factor in me'; or there being no mindfulness enlightenment factor in him, he understands: 'There is no mindfulness enlightenment factor in me'; and he also understands

BV: Youíre going to love this.

MN: how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen mindfulness enlightenment factor, and how the arisen mindfulness enlightenment factor comes to fulfilment by development.

BV: How do you bring up that mindfulness enlightenment factor? The function of mindfulness is to remember. To remember what? What is your mind doing in the present moment. How is mindís attention moving from one thing to another? How does that happen? It always comes back to the investigation of Dependent Origination. Seeing all of these different links arising and passing away. Itís remembering to look, remembering to observe. Thatís what mindfulness is.

MN: .. he also understands how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen mindfulness enlightenment factor,

BV: How does that come to be? Remember to pay attention. Remember to observe how mindís attention is moving from one thing to another. Letting it be, relaxing, coming back to your object of meditation is the way you strengthen that mindfulness. Thatís how you develop the mindfulness, and how the mindfulness enlightenment factor comes to be fulfilled by development.

TT: 50:05

Keep good at it. Now, when Iím talking to you about doing your meditation, most people think meditation is just sitting on your cushion and thatís it, and you know that Iím not talking about that, Iím talking about all the time. And this is somewhat difficult practice, to do the meditation all the time, it doesnít matter what youíre doing. What are you doing in the meditation? Developing that sharp awareness of what mind is doing in the present moment. Right now, mindís tight. Why? Thereís craving in it. Let it go and relax, smile, come back to your object of meditation. When you get into the jhānas, that doesnít mean that youíre only sitting in meditation. You can be in a jhāna while youíre chopping vegetables, or washing the clothes or taking a bath, you can be in jhāna at any time. Can you have joy when youíre taking a bath? Can you have joy when youíre chopping vegetables? Can you have joy when youíre mowing the lawn? What ever task there is if your mindfulness is sharp, you can be in a jhāna. And thatís where your mind is absolutely pure. No hindrances arise when these jhāna factors are present. Itís when your mindfulness slips a little bit for whatever reason. Remember I gave you that chart yesterday that had the five aggregates and the four foundations of mindfulness and the hindrances right underneath that. When your mindfulness is weak, when your mindfulness slips a little bit, you can look forward to one of those hindrances coming, or two of those hindrances coming because they like to gang up, they donít like to come one at a time. You get restlessness, and you like the restlessness if youíre planning, or you donít like the restlessness when you feel like jumping out of your skin. So you not only have the restlessness to deal with, you have the aversion to it, or the grabbing on to it. Now, you have to have enough interest in having an uplifted mind to recognize this is what it is, to let it be, relax, come back to an object of meditation. For some of you, youíre doing mindfulness of breathing, so you come back to your mindfulness of breathing and relaxing. On the in breath relax, on the out breath relax. For some of you, youíre doing your metta. Come back to that feeling of Loving-Kindness. With your daily activities you donít necessarily have to stay with that one spiritual friend, you can radiate Loving-Kindness to everybody, thatís fine. But the key is, to recognize that your mind is caught by a hindrance, let that hindrance be, relax, come back to your object of meditation. You do this with your daily activity. Thatís why Iím pushing you right now, I want to know how your daily activities are going, are you able to stay with feeling happy when your doing your Loving-Kindness? Can you be happy while youíre chopping this or sweeping that, or washing this, or going to the toilet or eating? Can you do that? Keep it going, donít let your mind just "Oh hum"? Thatís what the practice is about. And the more closely you can continue on doing that, the less suffering you will experience. The more you will experience a mind that is uplifted and happy and very alert. Any time you see that you have repeat thoughts, you have an attachment there and your mind is caught by the craving and clinging and that is a distraction.

TT: 55:15

S: ~

BV: It is constantly a process.

S: ~ BV: Yes. S: ~ BV: Yes S: ~ BV: Huh. S: ~~ BV: Right. S: ~ BV: No. S: ~

BV: Itís knowing and recognizing when that tension and tightness is arising, or there, in your mind and in your body

S: ~ BV: Yeah, S: ~

BV: You relax after you recognizeÖ the recognition is part of the mindfulness, and itís also part of the investigation. But right after that, there is the energy of letting go of that distraction, and then the joy will arise, and after the joy, thereís tranquility, and your mind becomes very still, and it becomes balanced. Iíve just gone through all of the different factors of enlightenment. And thatís the way it works.

S: ~

BV: Yes it is. Very much a part of it. And thatís the very thing that changes what the Buddhaís teaching, that it changes the end result of the meditation, because youíre able to see everything as process when youíre doing this, You donít see it as being a personal thing. Now one of the things that I try to get you to remember to do, is to develop your sense of humor about yourself, when you get caught, and you can laugh at being caught, then youíre not caught anymore. "Iím mad, I donít like this, Ha Ha, look at that, my mind got caught again. Oh, itís only this anger. Itís nothing." So it changes your perspective from: "I am this." To "Itís only that." It goes from being personal, big problem, "I got to fight with this." To "Well itís only this, itís only this feeling, nothing." Easy to let go of. See thatís the whole process of .. the seven factors of enlightenment. You have joy right in the middle of that.. Joy is your balancing factor. Joy helps you to have the perspective so that you donít get caught, and when you have joy, your mind is very light and very alert and very agile. So when you mind starts to get pulled down by a mental state, itís real easy to see that. So why do I want you to smile all the time? Why do I want you to laugh? Because it helps your mindfulness, it helps your investigation of all of your experience. The more you can smile, the more you can laugh. The easier it is to stay in balance. And the way you tell that you are progressing spiritually is that you stop laughing at things, and you start laughing with them. You donít take things personally. When I hear somebody say something thatís very true, the first thing that happens is I laugh. I canít help it. And Iím not laughing at anything. Itís just true. (laughs) "That was a good one."

TT: 1:00:33

S: ~

BV: Itís joy arising.

S: ~

BV: Right.

S: ~

BV: Thatís right. And why arenít you? (Laughter) Oh shucks.
So, the whole thing with the enlightenment factors is, they can be incredibly helpful when you have sloth and torpor. You need mindfulness, you need your investigation, you need your energy, and when you bring your energy up that joy will arise. When you have restlessness, you still need your mindfulness and your investigation, but you want to focus on tranquility, on stillness of mind, on balance. So you can call up these different enlightenment factors as you need them, and that again is part of mindfulness. Because youíre remembering, youíre remembering to focus with a tranquil mind, or a joyful mind, whatever. Now the whole thing with right effort, in the eight-fold path, is really important to your practice. With your investigation, you have to be able to do this with a balanced kind of effort. Now what is right effort? Right effort is seeing when your mind is unwholesome, letting go of that unwholesome state and relaxing, bringing up a wholesome state, and staying with that wholesome state. Now letís look at the hindrances again. What are you doing when a hindrance arises? Youíre seeing your mind has an unwholesome state in it. You let go of that unwholesome state, and relax. Now you come back to your wholesome state, and you stay with your wholesome state. Itís right effort. Effort and energy are not quite the same thing. You have to do it with a balanced kind of energy. If you try too hard, youíre going to cause yourself to get restless. If you donít try hard enough, youíre going to get sloth and torpor. There was a student that I had in Malaysia, Iíd just given a talk on how to make a determination when youíre working with jhānas. So she went home, and about a week later, she came back and she said to me: "Iím very familiar with getting into the jhāna," Ė I had known that. And she said: "Now, I canít get into the jhānas at all. Whatís the problem?" And I said: "What kind of determination are you making?" And she said: "Well, Iím making a determination to get into the first jhāna." And with that kind of determination, she was trying too hard. And the more she didnít get into the jhāna, like she expected, the more energy and effort she put into it, and the more restlessness she had, and she never go into that state. So I said: "Well, letís change your wording on your determination. Letís make a determination that your mind can be peaceful and calm. And then see what happens after that. And with that determination, all of a sudden she was very easily getting into the jhāna. See, it can be a subtle thing, "Ahh I donít feel like meditating today, but I guess Iíd better." What happens when you sit with that kind of mental state?

TT: 1:05:36

S: ~

BV: You know that one.

S: ~

BV: You get restless. "I donít really want to be here doing it but I feel like I should be, so Iím going to do it anyway." You have to let go of all of those kind of ideas. The whole thing with the meditation is, make it fun, make it a game. Donít get over serious with it. Iíve been to way too many retreats, and some of the retreats have been very long, three months and eight months, things like that, where I didnít see any of the yogis smile, the whole time, because they were trying really hard. And I appreciate very much the effort they were putting in, I was doing the same thing, I didnít smile either. But I appreciate very much the effort that was being put in, but it was not quite the right kind of energy that they were using, or we were using, and mind tended to get heavied out and over serious and then thereís a subtle self criticism that happens, because you feel like youíre putting in the effort, youíre putting in the energy, but youíre not getting the progress that you think you should, so you put in a little bit more, and a little bit more, and you donít have any progress in your meditation. Now I was with a Vietnamese monk, that had been at that meditation center a year before I got there. And he was putting in so much effort, I mean he was stale. You know, when I used to play basketball weíd get to a place where we played it so much that we needed to have a break from it, and he wouldnít take a break, even of a day or two, just to let all of the pressure go and just kind of kick back and relax for a little while. In the time I was there, he finally got to - this was the vipassanā that I was practicing at the time - he finally got to the second insight knowledge. In a year and a half. Yeah. Because he was trying way, way too hard. The whole thing with the meditation is learning how to adjust the amount of energy youíre putting in. As you go deeper into your meditation, you have to adjust in more and more subtle little ways. And it gets incredibly interesting. Especially when your mindfulness is sharp because you see, if you put in a taste too much effort, too much energy, your mind starts tending towards restlessness. So you back away from that and you mindfulness says "Ok, now weíre in balance again" and then you say: "Oh maybe that was . . I need to take a little bit less." And you get a little bit dull. And itís always different. Every time you sit, you have to judge the amount of energy that youíre using so that you can stay in balance. It gets to be a real fun experience.

TT: 1:10:05

And again, the real difference between people practicing meditation in Asia and people practicing meditation in this country, as Iím teaching it anyway, is in Asia, the people are very light naturally, and they like to fool around, and they like to chit chat and they like to laugh, and have lots of food, and thatís a wonderful existence for them, then they get to the meditation center, the teachers there have to be tough, theyíre really coming down on them all the time. I saw one monk, that, he was supposed to be doing a very intensive meditation, and the teacher caught him laying down sleeping in a room, and he grabbed him by the ear, and picked him up (Laughs) and scolded him the whole time, and made him go sit. He had to sit in front of the teacher. But we donít need that in this country, we donít need tough teachers. We need teachers that say: "Hey, youíre trying too hard, back off." Your balance has got to be good. And the way we do things with our always trying for perfection and always putting as much effort in to be as successful as we can be, we have to be told: "Back off a little bit." You need to get into your joy more. Because weíre so goal oriented weíll kill ourselves to get to nibbāna, and it just donít work that way. The enlightenment factors have to be in perfect balance in order to attain nibbāna. And that means having joy in balance with all the others.
Ok, weíll go back now to the five aggregates -

MN: (The Five Aggregates)

38. "Again, monks, a monk abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the five aggregates affected by clinging.

BV: Now this is an interesting statement: "The five aggregates affected by clinging." Depending on your mindfulness, the five aggregates may or may not be affected by clinging. If a feeling arises and you see it right then and you let it be and relax, no clinging will arise. If your mindfulness isnít so sharp then clinging can arise. What is clinging? Again, thatís where your opinions, your concepts, your thinking about, your stories, and your strong grabbing on to the belief that these are you, the personal nature of things.

MN: And how does a monk abide contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the five aggregates affected by clinging? Here a monk understands: 'Such is material form, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origin, such its disappearance; such is perception, such its origin, such its disappearance; such are the formations, such their origin, such their disappearance; such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.'

TT: 1:14:40

BV: Itís being aware of the aggregates as they arise, and letting them be. How do you see the origin, what is the origin of feeling? Tricky question if you donít know about Dependent Origination, but if you do know about Dependent Origination, you say: "The cause of feeling is contact." With contact as condition, feeling arises. And itís that way all the way through the five aggregates. So it always comes back to the Dependent Origination, and how that arises, how that changes, how it fades away.
Now weíll get into the six sense bases Ė

MN: (The six Bases)

40. "Again, monks, a monk abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the six internal and external bases. And how does a monk abide contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the six internal and external bases? Here a monk understands the eye, he understands forms, and he understands the fetter that arises dependent on both; and he also understands how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen fetter, and how there comes to be the abandoning of the arisen fetter, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned fetter.

BV: Sound familiar? Not much? Hindrance. So. Itís when eye hits color and form, eye consciousness arises, the meeting of the three is called eye contact. With eye contact as condition, eye feeling arises, with eye feeling as condition, eye craving arises, with eye craving as condition, clinging arises. So, when eye hits color and form, that consciousness arises, there will be a feeling that arises, pleasant, painful, neither painful nor pleasant. If at that time, you see and relax, then no fetter will arise. If your mindfulness is not sharp enough, that fetter will arise. And what happens, you start thinking about what youíre seeing, and you start thinking: "Ah, I like this, itís really good. And, Oh, I remember when there was another one that was just like that down the road." And all of a sudden youíre out in lala land a thousand miles away. Thatís the way distractions work.

TT: 1:18:27

One time I was in, I think it was Malaysia at the time. Iíd been really starting to become familiar with Dependent Origination, And I thought that it would be real interesting to see if I could eat some mango, which I truly love, without any craving in it. So I picked up a piece of mango, and I put it in my mouth and I noticed the taste, and I noticed how that different tastes arise, and I started chewing it, and there was a very pleasant feeling, and I went "Now the craving", and then I saw the craving. And so I relaxed, said: "Ok, I got to do this again, I didnít see it clearly enough." So I picked another one up, and I went through this whole process again, and I said: "That craving was really fast, I didnít see the start of it, I got to do it again." (Laughter) And I wound up eating the whole bowl of mango, but I didnít do it from a clinging mind, I did it from an investigative mind, because I wanted to see exactly where and when this craving arose, and how it arose. And when I got down to the last piece, "Well, ok, might as well do it one more time", I actually saw that when that feeling arose, and I relaxed, there wasnít any craving. That was a revelation, right there. This is wonderful stuff. And you can do this with all of the six sense bases. You can do it with the eye and form, the ear and sound, the nose and smell, the tongue and taste, the body and sensation, and mind and mind objects. You can see these things. Takes a lot of practice to be able to see them. But the thing thatís most important, is your interest. If you take one of the sense doors, and play with just that sense door for a day or two days and see if you can catch the feeling arising and relaxing right then, "Wow, thatís really something." Itís a real interesting process to go through. Donít recommend it with food too much, because you get full and you wind up getting fat. (Laughs) "Yeah, let me try another one of those. Yeah."

S: ~ (Laughter)

BV: Actually the fat Buddha is, Iíll let you have this story. He was a cousin of the Buddha. And he looked very similar to the Buddha. And people keep on thinking that he was the Buddha, so what he did, was he started eating more so he would look differently. And the Chinese, he wound up traveling quite a bit, and he was an arahat, and the Chinese found out about him through the Mahayana, that he was a fat arahat, and they started calling him the Fat Buddha. Now in China, any person thatís fat is considered very, very happy. Because they have all kind of diseases and worms and stuff. Nobody is ever fat in China. So they take this, the Buddhaís cousin and they say: "Heís the Buddha, and heís happy." And thatís why they like him so much. And they give him, sometimes they give him just a great smile, and it looks like heís laughing. That wouldnít be the deportment of the Buddha, not the kind of smiles they give him.
Anyway, we get to the last part of the mind objects as mind objects.

MN: (The Four Noble Truths)

44. "Again, monks, a monk abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the Four Noble Truths. And how does a monk abide contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the Four Noble Truths? Here a monk understands as it actually is: This is suffering';

BV: Now, when youíre looking at Dependent Origination, they donít use the word suffering. Theyíll use the word ignorance and then theyíll go to formations, and then theyíll say consciousness and then theyíll say mentality and materiality. They go through all of the different links of Dependent Origination, and instead of saying suffering they will say each one of those different links.

MN: he understands as it actually is: This is the origin of

BV: You can say suffering or you can say one of those links.

MN: he understands as it actually is: This is the cessation of

TT: 1:25:01

BV: suffering, or one of those links.

MN: he understands as it actually is: This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.'

BV: Thatís the eight-fold path.

MN: That is how a monk abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects in terms of the Four Noble Truths.



46. "Monks, if anyone should develop these four foundations of mindfulness in such a way for seven years, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

BV: Now, final knowledge here and now, heís talking about becoming an arahat. Or if thereís a trace of clinging, then becoming a non-returner which is an anāgāmī. Well, this doesnít say anything about the first two stages of enlightenment, does it? Why? You donít necessarily need to practice meditation in order to experience becoming the first stage or the second stage of enlightenment. These are stages that have to do with your understanding, and seeing Dependent Origination through your own understanding. You donít have to practice meditation at all. Sariputta didnít practice meditation at all when he became a sotāpanna When he became a sotāpanna, Venerable Assaji came and he said: "Tell me the essence of the teaching." And Venerable Assaji, he just said two lines: "The Tathāgata said: ĎEverything that arisesíí As soon as he heard that, he became a sotāpanna. And then Venerable Assaji said: "Everything arises from a cause." That was the first part of the statement. The second was: "And the Tathāgata said: "Everything ceases." I canít remember it exactly. Iíll have to look it up and give it to you tomorrow.(1) Anyway, when Venerable Sariputta heard just the first two lines, he became a sotāpanna because his understanding was so good, he just needed a little clue, but he heard all four lines. He goes walking around and Moggallāna sees him and he said: "Hey, youíve had some kind of experience. Tell me what it is." So Sariputta says these four lines to Moggallāna, and he becomes a sotāpanna. It has to do with your understanding. And thereís a lot more experiences like that. The banker, Anāthapiṇḍika, he just went to the Buddha, and the Buddha gave him a discourse, he became a sotāpanna. The chief female supporter, Visākha, when she was eight years old, she went to the Buddha and he gave a discourse, she became a sotāpanna. You donít have to practice meditation to become a sotāpanna. It depends on your understanding. And again, what you think and ponder on is the inclination of your mind. Thatís the little hint Iíll give you about that. And itís the same with sakadāgāmī, the second stage of enlightenment. Now the only way youíre going to become an anāgāmī or an arahat is through the practice of meditation, you have to be able to see much more deeply the links of Dependent Origination.

TT: 1:30:00

MN: "Let alone seven years, monks. If anyone should develop these four foundations of mindfulness in such a way for six years . . . for five years . . . for four years for three years . . .for two years . . . for one year, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

"Let alone one year, monks. If anyone should develop these four foundations of mindfulness in such a way for seven months . . .for six months for five months . . . for four months . . .for three months . . .for two months . . . for one month . . . for half a month, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

"Let alone half a month, monks. If anyone should develop these four foundations of mindfulness in such a way for seven days,

BV: How long is your retreat? Still got time.

MN: one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

47. "So it was with reference to this that it was said: 'Monks, this is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and grief, for the attainment of the true way, for the realisation of Nibbānaónamely, the four foundations of mindfulness.'"

That is what the Blessed One said. The monks were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One's words.

BV: Sighs, (Laughter) So, does anybody have any questions, comments, statements. Anything? Yes?

S: What is a sotāpanna?

BV: Sotāpanna means a person has experienced the first stage of enlightenment. When that happens their mind becomes pure enough, that they will not break a precept for any reason, on purpose. And thatís the way you test whether you become sotāpanna or not, actually. Try to say something thatís not true, your mind will not go there, it wonít do it. And according to the text in the suttas, it says that when you become a sotāpanna, the most lifetimes that you will experience in the future is seven. You come back seven times. Sakadāgāmī is the second stage of enlightenment. Itís called once returner. And that means that they will come back to the human form, one more time, before they become an arahat and get off the wheel. An anāgāmī is someone that is reborn in a special kind of Brahma loca, thereíre five or six of those. And there they will live for an incredibly long time, and become an arahat before they die and they will get off the wheel of saṃsāra. You become an arahat, it means that there is no more returning to any realm.
Now, nibānna, what is it? I wonít talk about it, because I canít.

S: ~

BV: Ahhh

S: ~

BV: Well, itís an unconditioned state, and how can you talk about an unconditioned state with conditioned words?

S: ~

BV: It is. And I get in conversation with monks, and we might sit around for four or five hours trying to define what the word nibbāna means, and what the experience is, and we always come up with the same answer: "I donít know."

S: ~

TT: 1:34:54

BV: Well, yeah, it means that. But weíre trying to figure out more closely what it really, what is that? And in the Anguttara Nikāya thereís one sutta that says: the way to look at an arahat is this: If I go down to the beach, and I make a castle and a wave comes and takes it all away. All of those little pieces of sand are still there but theyíre not ever going to be put together in the same way again. So you can say that the glue that holds the aggregates together is ignorance and craving. When you donít have ignorance and craving, then when the body dies, there is no more holding together of these things. Where does it go, what does it do, your guess is as good as mine. I donít know. But the Buddha did describe it as a kind of happiness. But even that is kind of . . I mean what relief Ė not ever having to see lust arise in your mind for anything, ever again. Or what relief you have from never having to experience anger at anything, for any reason. Never having those experiences again. Thereís real relief there and thatís a kind of happiness, and itís the same with all of the different fetters.

S: ~

BV: Thatís path, and fruition. Do you want me to talk about that? Ok.

S: ~ fruituion?

BV: Fruition, itís the fruit of the experience. Ok, when there is talk about the Saṅgha, and it says that thereís eight different kinds of individuals that are worthy of gifts and worthy of respect and praise and all of this kind of thing. When itís talking about these eight kinds of individual, it is: a sotāpanna, and a sotāpanna with fruition; a sakadāgāmī; a sakadāgāmī with fruition; an anāgāmī; an anāgāmī with fruition; an arahat; an arahat with fruition. Itís a different experience than the initial experience of nibānna that you can experience. It happens sometime after the initial experience. According to abhidhamma, which I definitely do not agree with, they say that thereís seventeen different parts of a thought moment, and seven of thought moments are javana moments. You experience nibānna in either the second javana moment or the third javana moment. And you experience the fruition in the fifth javana moment, or the sixth javana moment. So theyíre saying in a thought moment, youíre going to have the experience of the path and the fruition. But who would ever be able to see something like that? Or know something like that? Why would they talk about eight different kinds of individual? That doesnít make sense. What I have seen is that people can have the initial experience of nibānna, of deep understanding and seeing Dependent Origination, and then sometime in the future, they will have another experience of that, where thereís more clarity in seeing Dependent Origination and understanding of Dependent Origination, and thatís the fruition that occurs. And that happens with every stage.

TT: 1:40:19

There is one sutta that it kind of confirms the fact that if you have the initial experience of nibānna, and you just let your mind go back and do the things that it always does in the same way, that you can actually lose that experience, and gain the benefit and never have the fruition. So you got to be careful, you have to, once you have the experience of nibānna, you need to very, very closely watch all the sense doors, keep your precepts exceptional, be very careful with your awareness, or you could lose that attainment. Until you have the fruition, you donít really have that personality change. When you have the fruition, the personality change and it is really there. And Iím writing something about that right now, it will get more clear as time goes by, and thatís opening a bag of worms. Because thereís so much belief about just having the experience and thatís it and thereís nothing more and you donít ever have to worry about it again. But there are suttas that talk about you got to still be careful, still have to be careful until you have the fruition, and then you donít need to be careful any more, you already are careful, you donít have to think about it anymore.

Ok, letís share some merit then.


May suffering ones, be suffering free

And the fear struck, fearless be

May the grieving shed all grief

And may all beings find relief.


May all beings share this merit that we have thus acquired

For the acquisition of all kinds of happiness.


May beings inhabiting space and earth

Devas and nagas of mighty power

Share this merit of ours.


May they long protect the Buddha's dispensation.


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



Footnote 1: Vinaya Pitaka Mahavagga I.23.5


'Whatever phenomena arise from cause:
        their cause
        and their cessation.
Such is the teaching of the Tathagata,
    the Great Contemplative.'


Sutta text translation: (C) Bhikkhu Bodhi 1995, 2001. Reprinted from The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya with permission of Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144 U.S.A, www.wisdompubs.org        

Text last edited: 20-Oct-07


Source : http://dhammasukha.org

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