Day 8
Relax and learn

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

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

There is no way you can rush progress in meditation. We can only proceed steadily. But we don’t stop either.

How much you do, how skillful you are, how much you are able to do, the benefits of that are already accruing, are already present.

When you understand this then the greed to get more, to do better, will not arise.

Be aware of the defilements. Right View and Right Thought about the defilements, and how you observe them, is very important.

The objective of observing is not to make defilements go away. We are observing to understand, not to fix it or solve it but to understand its nature.

We are studying the nature of the habits of these different qualities of mind—their function, the way they work. We are not observing the story they are perpetuating.

When we understand this process we see that sets of conditions come together and these different elements of mind and experiences come together, then arise and then disappear, they fall away. This is nature. This is what happens.

The process of cause and effect, these causes and conditions, when we see the causes and conditions that give rise to the effect, how that then together with other sets of conditions give rise to the next effect, it becomes clear there is a law in operation. It is the law of nature. It works on its own laws. There is nobody there.

For example we might say that we know something that's happening outside of ourselves, but the process that has actually happened is that the mind has directed its attention toward that concept, "outward."

The nature of the mind is it doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t move. The mind arises and then it disappears. It arises, exists, and disappears.

Every different function and quality of mind has its unique and specific characteristics and function. You could call it "personality." It all arises in the mind. They are all considered mind. And we can know these unique personalities, the characters. Usually we mistakenly personalize them, we believe that quality is "mine" or "me," that function is "mine" or "me."

For example, the quality of knowing just knows. The quality of perceiving just perceives. The volitional quality, that's what it does, it's like some pushing impulse. The quality that feels just feels. Nature means that each of these are doing their own work. They don’t interfere in the other quality's functional work, they don't go in and do that job. They just do their own work.

The body has its specific and natural characteristics and the mind has its myriads of specific characteristics, its different natural functions.

Hardness is the quality of hardness, and softness is the quality of softness. Each has its own unique characteristics. Is it you?

In seeing, just seeing; in hearing, just hearing; in touching, just touching; There is mention of these things by the Buddha of this. What is meant by this?

It doesn’t mean that you are seeing and you don’t understand anything about it. It doesn't mean there is no meaning in your mind about it. It means that you know the nature of this phenomena and you understand what you need to understand about it, and it is just as it is. That because of that understanding, this phenomena is present, that greed, aversion and delusion are not arising.

When you begin to try to be aware of seeing, it’s just trying to be aware that there is seeing. It's about the awareness, that you become conscious that you are seeing. Bring that consciousness in that, yes, seeing is happening.

When there is enough awareness of this, and the mind is ready, you will begin to understand the nature of this process. What is the object in the process of seeing, and what is the knowing, what is the relationship between them? How do they function together to bring about this experience of seeing? You begin to see the cause-effect relationship of that as well.

In seeing, both physical and mental processes are at work and working together. You begin to understand what seeing is, how seeing works, what the conditions and the effects are.

For understanding to arise, for these insights to arise, the mind has to have become more purified, there is less greed and aversion in the mind. For example, for greed, when you understand greed's nature, then greed diminishes.

If there is greed in the way you are observing, in the way you are observing, in how you are observing, then insight cannot arise, understanding cannot arise. That’s why it’s so important to watch and understand our greeds and our aversions, their qualities.

It’s true the defilements are considered hindrances. But when you know about them, when you understand what makes them tick, then you can step over them.

Initially, as we contact objects and experiences, we will have wrong view. It will keep coming up, we will have aversion and greed in the way we watch and observe. But we will notice these, and this is our opportunity to watch them, to learn how they operate over and over. Then the understanding helps greed and aversion to diminish and the view to become more pure.

That learning process can only happen at its own pace. You can relax and learn. You can’t rush it. Can't panic through it. Just maintain your interest.

When there is less greed, aversion and delusion in the way we observe, our view becomes different. It seems like the scenery changes, like the experiences are different. But it’s just the mind that is different. You’ll be surprised, you’ll be amazed. But it won’t last long because the defilements come back. They are still very skillful, we don’t understand them fully yet. They've been messing with this mind, running the show for so long, they are not going to give up easily.

It’s only appropriate that this practice needs to be relentless to at least try to catch up with the defilements before trying to overtake them.

Don’t worry about practice because you’ll be doing it until the day you die.

So practice continuously and diligently. At least the intention is there.