SENSUAL DESIRE | GREED | ATTACHMENT | CRAVING (2)
◉ TOO MUCH EFFORT| China Retreat Mar 2014 – Opening Talk (7:12-15:07)
If craving is involved in the practice, the mind uses a lot of energy. If there is frustration because you cannot get what you want when you meditate, you use a lot of energy. And if you don’t know how to meditate, then you use a lot of effort because you don’t know what to do.
So before we can meditate, we should know the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the practice. At first, we use the knowledge, information and our intelligence to practice and later insight can arise. So, when we practice, we must have the knowledge, wisdom must be present; then defilements cannot arise.
The first important point is not to use too much effort. For example, do you know that you’re sitting now? Do you know that you’re seeing? Do you know that you’re hearing? Is it difficult? Is it tiring? That much energy is enough, there is no need to focus.
◉ CRAVING AND EXPECTATION| China Retreat 2016 02/29 Interview 8 (Volunteers 1) (05:05-08:20)
Whatever people do, they do with some expectations, hence craving is already there. Whatever you do, check your attitude: how strong is your expectation? Be careful on this, otherwise, when you can’t get what you want, anger arises easily.
Everybody wants to perform well. Be careful of this desire too. Know that we can only get as much as we are capable of, not as much as we want.
Right Attitude is very important in meditation. Meditators want to meditate well – that’s why a lot of tension, depression and boredom arise. Because they meditate with high expectations, when they cannot get what they want, problems arise.
◉ CRAVING AMIDST PLEASANT EXPERIENCE| China Retreat 2016 03/02 Interview 11 (C3) (34:08-35:35)
Yogis are only careful about unpleasant situations, but not when it comes to pleasant situations. Pleasant situations are dangerous because of craving. Yogis don’t see the craving problem. They only see the aversion problem. Both are 2 extremes – craving is one extreme and aversion is the other.
We need to be careful of both extremes. If we are satisfied and enjoy the pleasant situation, then the learning process stops.
When the meditation is peaceful and relaxed, it is easy to crave for the experience. So we must check that the watching mind is equanimous, that wisdom is present. Then we are in the middle way; otherwise, you land up in another extreme.
◉ HANDLING ADDICTIONS (CRAVING)| Gaia House 2015 Retreat (Q&A Group A&B Session 2; 1:40:29-1:45:10)
When you go home and want to watch craving, and craving comes with feelings, you watch the feelings as much as you can. How you want to help yourself at home is here; you want to learn to watch your feelings. Any strong feelings in the body that you have at the retreat, watch those feelings. That’s how you train the mind to watch. Hopefully the mind understands how to watch and not be involved or participate in the feelings, to watch it objectively with detachment. Observing can be quite alright while whatever you’re observing can be agitating. That’s the skill you can learn here.
Here you make it a habit – every time you feel something pleasant and unpleasant, you start watching how it feels. When you go home you do whatever you like but you choose to apply it and see how it goes.
Whatever you do at home, you try to do it with awareness and see what difference that makes. Because when there is awareness, wisdom can arise. Awareness is like the door that allows all the wholesome to enter the mind. So here you’re just learning how to be aware in the right way.
It’s all a habit, whatever we grow becomes a habit; if you grow the habit of awareness, awareness will catch up with your cravings and awareness will be more present. But if we don’t have awareness, whatever we do is very quick, very automatic. But with enough awareness, there can be space to choose.
◉ CRAVING EATS| Hong Kong Retreat March/April 2015 Day 6 Q&A Group B (34:32-35:23)
Our whole life, we eat food with craving. So every time we see or smell food, every time we pay attention to the food, craving comes. This is because we eat with craving our whole life long.
Everything we eat, it’s because we like. If we don’t like, we don’t eat anything. And, also enjoyment – how nice, and we think next time, we’ll come back again.
Because you allow this to happen again and again; so, every time you see the food and get the smell, desire comes. This is nature, this is the pattern. It is nobody; it is conditioning. But people think it is because “I want, I want’. They don’t know nature.
◉ CRAVING LOOKS; WISDOM SEES| Dhamma Lecture at Aquaplex, Arizona 5-11-2014 (18:45-19:33)
Looking and listening are focused/active seeing and hearing, picking up objects to see or hear. Seeing and hearing are passive.
Which comes first, looking or seeing? Craving straight away wants to look at something; but with wisdom, it knows that seeing is happening first and then chooses what to look.
◉ BEWARE CRAVING MEDITATING| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 5 Dhamma Discussion Group A File: 20160401 (1:50-2:57)
There was a yogi who once managed to get a deep calm and quiet state. For very many years, he was looking to re-experience this state, but it never came. He meditated and stayed alone in the forest for many years. When we talked, he found out his problem – the attachment to get back that experience.
Craving disguised itself as meditation, and the yogi was fooled completely. It is very important to know our state of mind, our quality of mind, when we’re meditating.
◉ RECOGNIZING THE PRESENCE OF CRAVING| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 3 Dhamma Discussion Group A File: 20160330 (2:06-6:32)
If your practice is difficult, you can be sure that something is wrong with your attitude. So, check your attitude first. Actually, craving is the problem.
The problem is the yogi doesn’t realize that craving is present at that moment.
Do you know how to watch aversion? If you can watch your mind, you can know feelings and thoughts, but defilements are not thoughts or feelings – feelings are feelings, thoughts are thoughts and defilements are defilements.
You need to learn about the nature of craving. When craving is present, how does the mind think? We can know craving from the way the mind thinks. We can know that craving is present from feelings and thoughts.
How do you know that craving is present? Beyond the thoughts and feelings, there is the nature of craving and you must know this nature. When craving comes, the pattern of thinking also changes. It keeps thinking about what it wants, again and again and again.
◉ LIKING AND DISLIKING| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 4 Dhamma Discussion Group C File: 20160331 (12:25-14:44)
[Yogi’s note: When the mind reacts to a concept object, don’t watch the concept object first; watch the reaction (liking and disliking) which is nature/reality. Defilements pay attention to concepts only; wisdom pays attention to nature/reality.
Sayadaw: Every time the mind contacts with an object, defilement is already there. That’s why we cannot understand ‘as it is’ because liking and disliking come first. So, first we take care of this liking and disliking – when liking and disliking becomes less, the mind becomes purified and awareness becomes better and better, then we can see just contact and that is nature.
For example, when pain comes, disliking already arises in the mind. So, if you continue watching the pain with disliking, then it’s not meditation because we’re looking at the object with aversion. That’s why the pain is increasing.
When the mind contacts with an object and there is liking or disliking happening, we should not watch this object first because the mind is not ready yet. We need to check our reaction first; when the mind settles down, then the mind is ready to observe the object and learn. Then, you can understand ‘as it is’ and what is Dhamma, what is nature.
When defilements become less, wisdom can grow. Only wisdom can know the nature. That’s why we’re meditating – to cultivate the quality of mind. When the mind has a lot of defilements, when it is not ready yet, don’t try to look for ‘as it is’; it is impossible because the mind is not yet purified.
◉ TRYING TO KNOW MORE THAN POSSIBLE| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Q&A Group A Session 1 (37:49 – 39:18)
[Yogi’s note: No need to go back and check if the mind is really aware of the many objects. If they are known, they are known; good enough. Stay with the awareness. Remember: Awareness is important, object is not important.
Sayadaw: A yogi was aware of hearing and then he heard 5 sounds, he caught them distinctly because he was just being aware of hearing. But because our habit was to gravitate to the object, he tried to know what the 5 sounds were. Then the yogi got tired because it was impossible to keep up with so many things to know.
You already know them, why do you need to go in and know them even more. So stay with the knowing. If we can sense that awareness is present, it is like stepping away from the object.
◉ AWARE BUT STILL FOLLOW DEFILEMENTS| China Retreat 2016 02/27 Interview 4 (Visitors 1) (17:28-18:25)
Yogi: I know how to be aware, but still when defilements arise I follow the defilements.
Sayadaw: There is not enough wisdom. Awareness recognizes what is happening, its duty is to recognize what is happening, but it cannot stop defilements. Only wisdom can stop defilements.
What kind of wisdom can stop defilements? If you want to know, you have to watch again and again and learn; it is a learning process.
◉ ADDICTION TO THINKING WHEN MEDITATING| SOM 2014 Vassa File: R05_0007 (36 mins onwards)
Thinking must be thinking about present moment experience, not about other things. If you think more, then your awareness becomes weaker. The aim of thinking in meditation is to support awareness. That is wisdom thinking. For example: What are you doing; what happens then? That’s it. Otherwise the mind is involved in the storyline and becomes agitated.
Investigation [wisdom thinking] means to use some questions to be more aware, like a scientist asking: why is this happening? That’s it. Then the mind is more interested in watching the experience.
◉ ATTACHMENT IS EVER PRESENT| SOM 2015 Malaysian Group Interview 16 Dec 2015 File: 151216-182445
Now my ankles and knees hurt when I walk. I notice this and then I realize that whenever people can eat, drink and walk; can see and hear – they’re happy and already there is attachment. If you cannot eat or drink, you cannot see or hear; what happens then? You’ll be upset because every time you can see and hear, unknowingly the mind is already growing the attachment.
Whenever awareness and wisdom are absent, wrong view and attachment are happening all the time. Only when wisdom is present, then wrong view and attachment is absent. They stop and wait; if wisdom stops, then they come back again.
So, the constant pain is also helping me to have right view. If you’re healthy all the time, unconsciously you don’t know that the mind is enjoying good health. You can eat, you can drink, okay? But when you cannot, then problem arises in the mind. Unconsciously all the time defilements are there; that’s why wisdom is awakening, knowing with right view.
◉ THOUGHTS KEEP POPPING UP| SOM 2014 Vassa File:R05_0002 (1:33 onwards)
Yogi: What to do with thoughts (wholesome and unwholesome) that pop up during meditation; what kind of right effort to use?
Sayadaw: Whatever thoughts that arise during meditation, just notice them; that’s enough. There’s nothing to do. We are trying to be aware; we are not trying to do anything about thoughts (the experience/objects). Let it be. Your responsibility is just to recognize the thoughts and maintain the awareness as much as possible. Right effort means perseverance, to continue to be aware moment to moment, moment to moment. That is right effort.
When thinking arises, we know that there is thinking. That’s enough because we just want to know that the object is arising. Thinking is mental object. It is important that you’re not involved with the thinking. Thinking comes and goes, that is no problem. You just maintain the awareness, okay?
◉ HOLDING ON TO THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS| Switzerland Retreat D4 Group Interview 20160528 (1:32:12-1:33:44)
Look at the thought and feeling, especially the feeling; this thought, this feeling – do that a lot. Notice how it feels when you hold onto the thought again, and again, and again, and again.
So, rather than intellectually wrestle with the idea of why the mind is holding onto that thought, look at what is actually happening – i.e. the mind is thinking this, the mind is feeling this. And stay with the feeling. Really recognize how it feels when this thought is present.
It is not the yogi’s business to drop the thought. Meditation is not about dropping anything – it is about watching and learning. Know how it feels when this thought arises – just know the feeling, that’s all.
That’s your homework for this one year.
◉ OVER QUESTIONING| Hong Kong Retreat March/April 2015 Day 8 Q&A Group A (46:47-48:37)
Yogi: When I ask a question and don’t get an answer, what should I do?
Sayadaw: Don’t continue to think; just be aware that you don’t know the answer and come back to being mindful of the present moment.
You don’t have to ask too many questions.
It may take days, weeks or years to find the answer to one question. It took me years to find the answer to the question: why does the mind suffer?
When you understand very well, the mind doesn’t suffer anymore. When it still suffers, again and again, it is because the mind doesn’t know the answer yet; for many years, the mind was still learning why it suffered.
◉ ATTACHMENT IS AUTOMATIC WHEN AWARENESS IS ABSENT| SOM Malaysian Interviews 2015 16 Dec. File: 151216-182445 (13:45:16:09)
In the meditation hall, a meditator decides not to join in the group metta chanting but to continue to meditate. But the mind becomes agitated when others are chanting. The mind wants to chant, why? Because she had not been mindful whenever she chanted – every time she chanted without awareness – then more and more she became attached to chanting. So whenever the same object arises, the mind wants to do it.
The lesson is: whatever you do again and again without awareness and wisdom you will become attached to it. You may decide not to do it, but when the object arises, you’ll become attached. This is the nature of delusion.
People chant every day, but they’re not mindful; unconsciously they become attached to chanting. [Yogi's note: So, check your mind (whatever you do, how do you feel?) when you’re doing any of your favorite things like gardening, walking your dog, taking hot showers or meditating.]
◉ PROCESS OF ATTACH AND RESIST| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 4 Dhamma Discussion Group C File: 20160331 (18:45-19:25)
The mind likes pleasant situations and resists unpleasant situations. That is the problem. You need to know that the mind is doing this, right? Attach or resist; be aware of this first. This process is just happening naturally.
Every time you see this mind and body process happening – every time you notice that this is conditioning, good or bad or whatever – it is very good. Because body and mind are related by cause and effect. Nature’s relationship is cause and effect. But the problem is your liking and resisting.
◉ TENSION IN THE SHOULDERS| Bangkok Retreat 2015 – 8 Nov Group B1 Q&A (48:00-48:58)
Yogi related to the teacher about having a year of tension in the shoulders and neck during sitting.
Sayadaw: For certain, there is greed in the practice. Sayadaw did lots of that. We all do that; we all have wrong effort – efforting with greed and wanting to get things in a certain way.
The lesson is to recognize the greed every time you notice it, and then eventually learn that greed is really not helpful for the outcome that you’re trying to achieve, that greed is really not helping. When the mind learns that, it lets go of the greed either right away or mostly slowly in bits.
◉ MIND DOES NOT WANT TO DIE| SOM Malaysian Interviews 2015 Dec.3
Sometimes when the mind settles down, your thinking becomes more serious and deeper because when you have samadhi, the way the mind thinks is different.
3 days ago, someone died and I went for the cemetery ceremony; I looked at the corpse. When I returned I took a shower; I looked at my body and the mind knew that I too have to die.
But suddenly the mind says: I don’t want to die. Although wisdom understands very well that craving doesn’t want to die, the mind still has the idea of not wanting to die.
At the time when I notice the mind saying: I don’t want to die, I felt free. I just looked at my body and remembered that that person had died and the mind saying: I don’t want to die. Although the idea is not strong, very subtle but clinging is still there.
I know very well that this body is heavy and tiring, but clinging is still there.
◉ TRYING TOO HARD| Bangkok Retreat 2015 – 8 Nov Group B1 Q&A (49:30-52:02)
When I was a teenager, I loved to meditate because I liked the samadhi, the feeling of being blissed out; and I blissed out really easily. I wouldn’t sleep at night so that I could enjoy the samadhi.
I was on retreat once; day and night I was enjoying my bliss. Then a bedbug bit me; the pain got me angry and my samadhi was gone. Then, I started meditating again to get back my samadhi. But it wouldn’t come back. I tried harder and harder and it went on for 3 days and 3 nights. I was having such a headache that I was sticking medicated patches on my forehead. Then, I decided that it was enough and gave up. When I gave up, the samadhi came back just like that. And my understanding of the experience was so strong – that doing it to get it was not the way to get it because my mind already knew how to enter samadhi. I got it so easily to begin with, so why was I trying so hard. So, when I stopped trying, it came back.
You don’t get it because you want it or because you try hard. You get it when all the conditions are fulfilled because every effect has its set of conditions; that’s wisdom.
[For samadhi to arise, the 5 Hindrances should be set aside.]