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( SATI )



| China Retreat Feb 2014 Q&A File:20140218-1 (6:0-14.22)

Pay attention from the head to the body and feet, part by part. What do you know? Pay attention without exerting too much energy. Do you know how you feel? Are you angry or tense now? Anything you know of yourself, that’s awareness.

Do you understand? It is not difficult right? Just sit for a hour like this.

We should not be aware of things outside of ourselves. The whole day, you try to pay attention inwards. The first thing you wake up, how do your body and mind feel? Pay attention to your body and mind. Whatever you do, your mind radar is always focusing inwards. Understand? Difficult?

The breath is a subtle object; yogis tend to over-focus. Do you know that you’re breathing? That’s good enough; breathing must be natural, not forced. So, our meditation object must be a natural process, happening naturally.

When we hear a sound, we should pay attention to our ears, not to the outside object. You cannot hear the outside object; it is only when the sound touches the ear, then only we can know.

You can also be aware of any sensation in the body, in any part of the body. You can use any sensation in the body that you like. Do you feel cold?

For beginners, what should you be aware of? You can use the touching of the buttocks or the hands touching, or breathing in and out [yogi’s note: Sayadaw’s advice elsewhere – but breath is a subtle object that can be difficult for beginners because they force the breath when not clear. That’s why I don’t encourage awareness of the breath for beginners.]

The body bends slightly as we meditate; naturally the body bends a bit when the mind calms down. The body becomes tense if we try to sit unnaturally straight for a long time. When effort is less, the body bends; so when we bend a lot, we need to put in a little bit more effort. We can move; when it’s very painful we need to move. But we know when we’re moving. Important thing is to be aware of everything we’re doing. 


| Hong Kong March/April 2015 Retreat Day 8 Q&A Group B (09:58-10:27)

Whatever you do, try to do it together with awareness. Then you can meditate as well as do whatever you do. Only with mindfulness meditation can you do two things at one time, even in the toilet! Whatever you do, keep awareness present.


| China Retreat 2016 03/04 Interview 16 (Volunteer 2) (56:28-56:48)

Yogi: The only thing I can do is just to cultivate the watching mind; make the awareness stronger.

Sayadaw: Yes, that’s the understanding. If the watching mind is stronger and stronger, then other minds settle down. Good.


| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya: Vietnamese Group Interview 3 Sept 15

One thing you need to remember: vipassana object must be natural: you don’t try to control the experience. Remember: we’re not trying to create something or make something disappear – we’re trying to be aware!

The instruction is very simple: Don’t suppress; don’t follow; also don’t forget to be aware. 


| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Group A Session 4 (33:19-34:06)

Yogi: It feels like once I finish this or that chore (e.g. brushing my teeth) then I can be mindful

Sayadaw: It’s while we are doing it that we should be mindful, not after we’re done with it. Be with the process, even though it feels like you can’t finish brushing fast enough.

There’s no meditation in the future that we need to be doing; we just need to be doing it now.  


| Dhamma Lecture at Aquaplex, Arizona 5-11-2014

Awareness means recognizing or remembering your sense doors in the present moment. It doesn’t mean focusing.

Don’t force too much to be aware. Many yogis use a lot of energy to focus too much to be aware.

So, awareness doesn’t use focusing. For example, are you aware of yourself now? Do you notice that you’re sitting? Do you know that you’re seeing? When do you recognize that you’re seeing? When you’re aware, right? So, how much energy do you need to know? 

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| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Group E Session 1 Q&A (1:03:00 – 1:07:38)

Yogis need to be skillful at recognizing seeing and hearing to become more aware in daily life because seeing and hearing give rise to so many things in the mind. Someone who notices seeing and hearing a lot definitely begins to notice the mind. It is not the eyes that look or ears that listen, but rather the mind.

The hardest things for us to be mindful of are our seeing, looking and speaking. But if we want to practice in life, then these make up the largest part of our interactions.

So if someone is not skillful at the practice then these are the leaks – they won’t have awareness when they see, speak and hear. When we see, speak and hear but are not able to know our emotions at the same time as we do all these, then we cannot maintain our samadhi, our stability of mind. 


| Hong Kong Retreat March/April 2015 Day 6 Q&A Group B (1:46:29:1:47:53)

Many yogis cannot see the mind. They only notice sensations in the body. If you understand the mind, only then can you watch it. Without understanding, you cannot watch the mind.

If you don’t know what the mind is, then you cannot watch the mind.

Many yogis ask me how to watch the mind. I would ask them: Do you have a mind? Show me the mind? Thinking, feeling, intention, paying attention and knowing – if you know their meaning, then you can watch.


| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Guided Meditation Day 4 (15:20-19:27)

Everybody has a mind, but there is no way for us to perceive it with our physical senses. So, how shall we observe the mind? Although there is no place where the mind resides, we can know the mind because we can know that the mind is doing things. For example, when there is thinking, we can know that thoughts are arising, thinking is happening.

When you pay attention to something, when you’re aware of something, the mind’s attention is directed to what you’re aware of, and you can know that the mind has directed attention.

When we’re aware of a physical sensation, we can know that the awareness is present; therefore you know the physical object, but to actually take that awareness as an object, that’s a skill that not all of us have.

Those of us who feel that the awareness has become more continuous, pretty stable, do you feel like the awareness feels obvious to you?

Something knows; something has this capacity to know, and that is the mind.


| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 9 Dhamma Discussion Group A File: 20160405 (21:52-22:17)

Yogis need to practice seeing and hearing more; otherwise when you’re seeing and looking, defilements overwhelm you.

Daily activities, you need to practice more seeing and looking, hearing and listening until they become natural. Every time you see and look, try to be aware.


| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 9 Dhamma Discussion Group A File: 20160405 (31:45-31:56)

Very simple. Now, I look at you first; then I try to be aware that I’m looking at you – that’s all. Is it difficult?

First, I look at you and continue looking. Then, another mind tries to be aware that I’m looking. Cannot do this?

First, look at something; and then try to notice looking. And when listening to music, you can also practice. Listen first, and then try to notice listening. Paying attention is also the same – notice some mind object (yogi’s note: like feelings or thinking of something or someone). After that, try to notice that paying attention is happening.

The 3 nature are the same: looking at something and trying to notice looking; listening and trying to notice listening; aware of a mind object and trying to notice the awareness. 


| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Group D Session 4 (32:40-35:01)

People whose focus of attention is on the experience, they will develop attachment and aversion or liking and disliking towards the experience. But if someone’s attention is more on how they are being aware, they just learn how to become more and more skillful at being aware. They also begin to understand the value of the presence of awareness.

When we practice in daily life and we’re successful, we truly, truly experience the benefits of the Dhamma. Because when we put in the necessary effort and dedicated practice, then that dedicated practice gives the awareness the power that when defilement should arise, you can turn that power of awareness onto the unwholesome state of mind, it dissolves, it cannot stay long.

In any day if we reflect on the day and how much we were able to be mindful and how much we were not able to be mindful, we will be able to see how in the times that we were mindful, we were able to handle the defilements, while in the times when we were not mindful, we get carried away into the unwholesome.  

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| Hong Kong Retreat March/April 2015 Day 6 Q&A Group B (16:17-17:29)

When the mind is tense, the object is clearer and more obvious. When the mind is relaxed, the object is more subtle.

The habit of the mind is such that it is more interested when the object is obvious – if the object is obvious, it stimulates the mind.

When the mind cannot know the object clearly, it loses interest. Actually, the more subtle object is closer to nature; it is a real object.


| China Retreat 2016 02/27 Interview 3 (C1) (1:32:10-1:35:50)

Yogi: What to do with emotions that arise for no reason, both in daily life and during meditation?

TS: Normal people just follow or suppress the emotion. But for meditators, whenever any emotion arises, we use as an object (yogi’s note: think that the emotion is nature, not personal) and watch the emotion. If your awareness is weak and you cannot watch the emotion objectively, then you should be aware of a neutral physical object first to let the mind calm down.

Normal people change the object when they cannot face the emotion – they go out to karaoke or do something else, then the emotion subsides. But for meditators, they watch the emotion as an object and try to learn from the emotion. Why is the mind reacting? What is emotion? Why is the mind suffering? And who is suffering?

We watch because we want to understand. 


| China Retreat Feb 2014; File: 20140224 (19:50-22:45)

Awareness is not ‘I’; it is a function of the mind. There is no ‘I’ in the watching mind. Later, you’ll begin to see that this watching mind is always new. Actually ‘I’ doesn’t exist; it is only wrong idea. When right view comes, wrong view stops.

At first, we believe that the mind is ‘me’; later, mind is mind. The mind is always new; a cause and effect process. Understanding once or twice isn’t enough. You need to understand again and again; then your defilements become weaker and weaker, and your understanding becomes deeper and deeper. 

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| Singapore Retreat 2014, Gp 2B-2A Group Discussion; File: 191117 (22.48-23.30) 

Awareness is one of the functions of the mind, an activity of mind. But the mind is never alone – there are always many minds. You can never be aware alone – all the other factors will be working together. Mindfulness is team work – all the 5 Spiritual Faculties are working together.

Pure awareness means that wisdom is very strong; because wisdom is strong, then awareness, effort, samadhi and faith are also strong. They must be balanced together. Then you can call it pure awareness, but it does not mean that it is awareness alone. It means that all the 5 Spiritual  Faculties are working well together. Because there is wisdom, there is no defilement anymore, and then we can call it pure awareness. 


| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Group C Session 4 (1:29:54-1:32:07)

Yogi: How to be aware and not be overwhelmed by the senses in daily life?

Sayadaw: Take whatever is important at that time, like if you’re doing something with your hands then your attention is there with your hands; if you’re walking, then your attention is with your walking. So, whatever is most immediate; what’s natural to that moment.

If most of your time is spent on thinking and planning, then know that that’s what the mind is doing, that’s what is happening. When the mind has to do a lot of work, then the mind is the object. It just takes a lot of practice and then it will feel like everything will come naturally. In the beginning it will be on and off.  


| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Group C Session 4 (1:28:06-1:29:17)

Because awareness is itself a wholesome quality, if you do it all the time, it moves the mind towards the wholesome. Because in being aware, we bring the quality of sati to the mind, and when sati is present, wisdom can arise.

This is the law of the mind – all the wholesome minds need sati to be present in order for them to be present in the mind. That’s the law of the mind. So, that’s why the presence of awareness which is the 5 faculties working together introduces sati; and so that means that all the wholesome minds have the opportunity to then take place in the mind.

And if you do that all the time, the mind can only get better and better


| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 7 Dhamma Discussion Group B File: 20160403 (1:38:15-1:39:15)

Don’t try to let go; don’t try to do anything. Just simply watch. Seeing, knowing, is something; it is very powerful. But it takes time – slowly, naturally, the mind matures. Just be patient and watch again, again, and again. After a long time, you will realize that it has grown slowly.

In the near term, you cannot expect much to happen, right? Just learn how to practice, that’s all. Get more information and encouragement to practice, and the real practice is lifelong. Be patient. 


| Dhamma Lecture at Aquaplex, Arizona 5-11-2014

The key to insight meditation is continuity of awareness because it develops natural awareness. We need this natural energy. We don’t use personal energy all the time, practicing with too much effort. In the beginning we use personal effort to try to be aware. But later when awareness gains momentum, awareness becomes a habit; at that time natural effort grows.

If you’re not aware of natural effort, you’ll put in too much personal effort and the idea of self becomes present all the time. When that happens, meditation cannot improve because the idea that “I’m meditating, I’m meditating” is present.

When awareness comes naturally, we don’t have to force to be aware. At that time, nature is meditating; I’m not meditating. Therefore the idea of ‘self’ is decreased at that time. Meditation is anatta, no self; nature is meditating, nobody is meditating. At that time, anatta idea is very strong, then your understanding deepens.

So, natural momentum is very important. If you use too much energy all the time to be aware, then the idea of self does not decrease. Then there is no right attitude, no right idea. So, it is not necessary to use too much effort. As for continuity of awareness, just recognize what’s happening within yourself all the time, as much as you can: for example, you know you’re walking, you’re sitting, you’re seeing, that’s enough.


| Switzerland Retreat D4 Group Interview 20160528 (2:11:20-2:13:14)

You have lots of weapons but you’re not using them. Because the mind is alarmed by it; so, it’s forgetting to use its weapons. So, it’s like ‘oh no, oh no, oh no’, but it’s like ‘just get the weapons out and start shooting’.

Don’t say ‘oh no’ next time; say ‘oh yea, oh yea, oh yea’.

Bring awareness with you, that is your weapon. Make it really strong – that’s why I say ‘be aware continuously’. When it’s strong, then it’s a powerful weapon.

If there’s a fire, we need water. But we need a big pipe, not a tiny tube.

It should become a habit for the mind – something happens, let’s be aware. It should be an automatic reaction of the mind. 

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| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 - Group A Session 1 Q&A (39:38-42:17)

Join the qigong or yoga classes. You can be moving so many parts of your body at the same time and you can be fully aware and present but you don’t need to be focusing. You can get a sense of how awareness is like that.

When I first saw someone doing qigong somewhere, it hit me instantly that like they are moving their arms in different ways – clearly you have to know both to move them in different ways – and they move their legs at the same time too. And it’s like that’s vipassana awareness too!

They’re not focusing on anything but they know everything. From the centre, you can just be able to orchestrate. The point of vipassana is wisdom, right? And wisdom’s point of view is always a bird’s eye view; it’s like over the top. That’s how it should be.

That’s why when I begin the instructions, I start with the over-efforting bit, like we put in too much energy when there’s greed, aversion and delusion because energy is something that we’re used to over using and I’m trying to get us to back off.

When we get to the point when we’re seeing the flow of the nature of mind and matter you can’t focus or you’ll interrupt the flow. You just know. At that point, it’s wisdom that’s running the show – when you can see the nature of mind and matter and how it flows. You’re not in charge; wisdom sees it. It’s not samadhi. Samadhi is just stability of mind, it does not see; it supports the show, but this concentrating, focusing is not what sees. What sees is wisdom; and wisdom doesn’t try to; it just knows.


| Singapore Retreat 2014 – Group 2A-2B Discussion – File 141101 (50:20-53:03) & Perth 2013 Retreat Guided Meditation 131104

The purpose of observing is to understand. We learn by observing the mind, why it suffers, why it is happy, why we cannot maintain happiness all the time, right? That is because we don’t know. When we know the nature of the mind, then only we can maintain the peacefulness, happiness all the time. Then we suffer less and less because of understanding nature, cause and effect; if we know that because of this cause this effect comes, then we can stop the cause by understanding. That is why we are watching. Vipassana is a learning process. Also you must have intelligence. Like if you want to learn something, there must be interest... Why it comes, why it goes and what to do; we look many times and then slowly we understand and start to get business [yogi's note: wisdom/understanding]. 

We want to know ourselves, we are the nature – physical and mental process, who am I; slowly the answer comes. Like a scientist, we are researching about ourselves. Why so angry? Why so suffering? Why worry and anxiety so much? If you know, it becomes less and less. For me, my experience is that I was depressed, very strong, for 3 years. Then I start to research why the mind so suffers. Then I watch again, again and again; then understanding slowly comes and the depression is gone – no need medicine. 


| China Retreat 2016 03/04 Interview 15 (C4) (07:55-8:52)

If you want to identify, identify with: “because I’m aware, therefore I’m good” – not when you think that you’re meditating well. Otherwise, yogis will complain about what’s happening when defilements arise and think “I’m very bad, I’m very bad” because they forget that awareness is present.

However much you notice about your ugly habits or ugly mind, you should be happy because awareness is present.


| China Retreat 2016 02/27 Interview 6 (B2) (11:07)

Because awareness is there, whatever you do, the mind has already learnt.


| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Group C Session 4 (35:10 – 36:05)

We are not only trying to be mindful when we have all the unwholesome stuff to clear, but also when we are having wholesome states of mind like metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha because mindfulness is the practice.

Mindfulness has very unique power – if mindfulness pays attention to the unwholesome, the unwholesome gets less and less. And when mindfulness is brought to the wholesome, it strengthens the wholesome. Because mindfulness itself is a wholesome state – so wholesome and wholesome get more wholesome; wholesome and unwholesome, the unwholesome gets less and less. 


| China Retreat 2016 02/29 Interview 8 (Volunteer 1) (27:17-28:20)

If someone is aware of the mind all the time, then meditation accompanies whatever he does. 

If you have practiced for a long time, awareness becomes a habit. You don’t need to try to know the mind. The mind already knows. Awareness sees the mind all the time. You cannot avoid it. It has become a habit.


| China Retreat 2016 03/04 Interview 15 (C4) (1:21:42-1:22:18)

Knowing, thinking and feeling are different mind activities. Sometimes we pay attention and we think and feel. That will exaggerate the pain. Knowing is just awareness, not feeling and not trying to think. If you are aware, pay attention and think together, then the feeling will increase.

Trying to be aware is just knowing; not thinking about this object; just knowing this object. That’s why the result is different because if you’re aware, the mind does not think.


| Hong Kong Retreat March/April 2015 Day 6 Q&A Group B (1:38:49-1:39:46)

Yogi: About the Satipatthana Sutta, it is mentioned about observing the mind internally and externally.

Sayadaw: Externally is the object; internally is the mind. It is my teacher’s idea that we need to use the object; inside is the mind.

Yogi: In the Sutta, it is said that we need to see the rising and passing away internally, and rising and passing away externally.

Sayadaw: It is the knowing mind and object together. Then, it is the complete picture – knowing and object rising and passing away together. Only seeing the object rising and passing away is not enough.

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| China Retreat 2016 03/04 Interview 15 (C4) (1:08:00-1:11:35)

Yogi: How to maintain mindfulness when using the internet?

Sayadaw: Use your feeling as the main object. Try to watch your feeling as much as possible while working on the computer. Try. After a long time, it becomes automatic.

No need to focus on what you’re doing; the mind already knows what to do because you do the job every day. Spend 50% of the time being mindful of how you feel while you’re doing it.

When I was a businessman, I watched my feelings while doing my business, checking all the time. Slowly, as the mind became more skillful, it became a habit.


| China Retreat 2016 03/01 Interview 9 (A3) (1:56:35:1:59:23)

Make it a habit to be mindful when you sleep. Then when you wake up, automatically awareness is present.

When I was practicing, my teacher would ask me if I remembered my last mind just before I fell asleep. And also the first mind that I woke up with. Then every time I slept, I tried to remember the last mind before sleeping and the first mind I would wake up with.

When I tried too hard to be mindful, I could not sleep. And when effort was less, I would fall asleep without remembering. Now the mind automatically becomes mindful when sleeping. When the momentum is present, already the mind knows. 


| IMS Retreat 2012 – ‘Taking practice into Life’

How much awareness and wisdom are present when you talk?

What is important during a conversation is to look out for is eagerness to talk. And when you talk, you can be aware of your voice, how you feel and about what you are going to say.

Do not put your attention completely at the other person you are talking to. We usually look at and listen to the other person. If we pay too much attention to the concepts, to the other person, then we will lose awareness of ourselves. So, you have to maintain more awareness of yourself rather than the other person.

When we speak, the idea of me versus others also comes in. Because once someone approaches us to talk, the idea of “Me” is going to come up very easily. And that makes defilements arise easily. When we see someone approaching us to talk, put your attention on yourself – notice your attitude and how you feel.

Your awareness is very important – you have to maintain that awareness throughout the conversation. When we speak with awareness and wisdom, only then right speech happens.


| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Group B Session 4 (6:54-7:28)

The key is the mindfulness, the purpose is the mindfulness; it’s not to have a perfectly wise conversation throughout. It’s about having a mindful conversation; yes, you may be agitated, you may lose your balance and all that, but you still are mindful of it, then you are still mindful.

We are just practicing and what we want to know is if the mindfulness is present through it all, through all the ups and downs. 


| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Group A Session 4 (22:05-22:35)

Don’t be very intensely mindful when you talk; just a very light recognizing of what is happening. You just need to have this habit of always watching yourself.

Talking is such a natural process; If we try to be aware intensely when we talk, it’s like we keep jamming the brakes. 

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| Gaia House, 5/6/2015

It's mentioned in the Satipatthana Sutta that we be aware when we're silent and be aware when we speak. 

Being aware of yourself when you speak, you begin to learn new things about yourself. There is understanding of who to speak to, what to say and when to speak. These skills are learned when being aware of yourself whenever you speak, over time and with practice.

When we speak, it's also just a process of mind and matter (body) working together. But when we're not aware of this being a process, we believe that "I am speaking". This is inaccurate, wrong belief. The more you're aware of yourself whenever you speak, you'll begin to notice more and more what mind set you speak with, what motivation you speak with.

We often feel like we're not able to be mindful when having to communicate. This is not true. You can; with practice, patience and skills. One of the components of the Noble Eightfold Path is right speech. So we practise that. The Buddha didn't say we shouldn't speak. He said avoid evil/unwholesome speech, thoughts and deeds. When we don't develop the habit of being mindful whenever we speak; it doesn't matter how many silent retreats we go and try to be mindful, the moment you begin speaking, you'll lose mindfulness because it's not the habit of the mind to be mindful when it speaks.

Yogis report that they find it hardest to be mindful when speaking. It's not that it's difficult to know that you're speaking or seeing. This is because there's no habit of being continuously mindful while you are speaking or seeing. It is just a lack of practice.

It's said that when there's stinginess, it's difficult to be generous. When there's no shame, it's difficult to have ethics. When there's no practice, it's difficult to have the Dhamma. So it's just the lack of practice that makes us not skilful in meditation, which is the practice of the Dhamma every day.

If you make effort to bring in mindfulness – just set the intention, you'll find slowly you will gain skill and the habit of being mindful whenever you speak and remembering to be mindful while you're speaking and you'll also find that your speech will slowly be more skilful.

Awareness is the ultimate multi-tasking tool. You can walk and be aware. You can talk and be aware. You can eat and be aware. So you are always getting at least two things done at the same time. When you speak, whatever you might notice about yourself – you might know that you are feeling, you might know you are thinking, you might know the sound of your voice. Whatever that you are knowing, it's fine, just so long as you're knowing something about yourself. You might be feeling your loving kindness. You might notice your hand gestures, your bodily movements or facial expressions. You begin to notice how your body language is connected to your mind; how you feel; what you're thinking.

Again, it's just a simple knowing. If you try too hard to know something, too hard to focus on yourself, you'll find it difficult and unnatural to speak and be mindful at the same time. But if it's just a simple knowing, the recognition of yourself, whatever it may be, not necessarily very clearly, but continuously and just being with yourself while you speak.

While speaking, take time to pause. Don't speak continuously. We can get carried away. Most of all, know when you speak, what you want to get across. Be careful especially when the mind is eager to put forth its point of view because it can get carried away. 

How to maintain steadiness of the mind throughout the conversation? We think it's difficult but that's not true. We can maintain steadiness whether when we're silent or speaking if we have the skill. That has to be learned, practiced. If you try to remember every time you speak, just setting the intention, making the effort, you don't have to succeed every time, but just trying. The benefits will be many. If you just notice the desire to speak and you give yourself that space to choose your words and notice yourself when you speak, wisdom has a chance to come through. 


Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 4 Dhamma Discussion Group C File: 20160331 (11:30-12:11)

That’s why continuity of awareness is very important. If you’re aware, aware, aware… doing like this, the nature of awareness becomes a habit, becomes obvious. That time, it is easy to be aware of awareness. Understand?

First, we need to be aware of the object; and then maintain the awareness continuously. We also need to know the object and the knowing mind, that there are 2 parts, not only 1. For example, seeing is sight and the knowing; hearing is sound and the knowing.