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Day 3
Thoughts are not a problem

Spirit Rock Meditation Center Retreat, April 25-May 9, 2015

Translation from Burmese by Ma Thet and transcription and editing by Douglas McGill

Keep practicing.

Keep the body and the mind relaxed. Let them relax.

Check your attitude. Are there any expectations? Anything the mind thinks or prefers, wants or thinks is better?

What does the mind know now? What is the mind doing now?

Thoughts are nature. Thoughts are a process of mind. We should recognize thoughts, acknowledge them. Thoughts are not a problem. It’s important to recognize thoughts.

The stories of our thoughts are just concepts. They are not what we are. Thoughts are happening in the present moment. The mind is thinking in the present moment. That is what we want to know.

Thoughts may be about things in the past or things in the future. But that's not so important. In the present moment, what’s happening is the mind is thinking. It's not the story in the present moment, it's just the mind that is thinking.

The mind is thinking. If you know that, that is good enough. There are thoughts. If you know that, that is good enough.

Thoughts are another process of mind and another object that can be known. That is all.

There are good sensations, bad sensations, pleasant feelings and unpleasant feelings. For us they are just objects, they are something that we know, something we are aware of.

Whatever is happening that you are aware of, let it happen. What you want to recognize is that you know it’s happening because you are aware. You want to appreciate the presence of the awareness, that the awareness made it possible for you to know what's happening. Appreciate that. Value that awareness above all else.

Awareness fulfills two functions while it's at work. Every moment of awareness is a moment that gathers more information. The awareness is also cultivating itself, building its own momentum so that it becomes a stronger quality in the mind.

Don’t get so into the object that you forget the awareness that is enabling you to know that object. We can get obsessed with the object, we can get very close to it and think that is all there is to know. Don't forget the awareness.

Is the mind aware? Is there interest?

So long as the mind is working with awareness, not just with awareness but right effort, stability of mind, confidence and wisdom. So long as all these qualities are at work in the mind continuously, the mind will get stronger and stronger. Those qualities will get stronger.

If the mind is peaceful, know that it is peaceful but be careful about indulging in the peacefulness, about just enjoying the peacefulness, not wallowing in the peacefulness. If we are lost in the peacefulness then right effort starts to slip away and diminish. Gently slipping away.

The work of right effort is trying without stopping to continue to be aware. Trying without stopping.

At all times of the day, remember to attend to mindfulness, to do everything with awareness, to not only be mindful when you are in sitting meditation. Be mindful in all activities and all movements. In the dining hall continue to maintain awareness.

Practice wholeheartedly and sincerely. Apply yourself to the practice.