AWARENESS | MINDFULNESS 2
( SATI )
◉ THE MIND'S WORK IS TO STAY AWARE| Gaia Retreat 2015 Q&A Group E & F Session 3 (54:02- 54:40)
You know how we need to train the mind? We need to train the mind to stay clear, and to do that, you have to give it work. And the work we want to give it is awareness. And when you give the mind the work of being aware constantly, it clarifies the mind. When the mind is clear, when you need to think, it thinks very clearly – it’s efficient and more effective thinking when the mind is clear.
Thinking should be as necessary. Having to think and think and think is tiring for the mind. You shouldn’t let the mind have its own way.
◉ OBJECT: BEING KNOWN| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 3 Dhamma Discussion Group A File: 20160330 (34:44-35:36)
You can understand what it is. If you understand something about the experience, defilements can disappear.
If you understand that it is simply being known, it is an object – whenever any understanding arises – then the defilements disappear.
Whatever happens, so what? What is it? Being known – that’s it!
◉ BY KNOWING THE MIND, OBJECT TOO IS KNOWN| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 6 Dhamma Discussion Group D File: 20160402 (1:50-2:34)
If you can be aware of the mind, physical objects are already known; no need to focus on the physical objects because object and knowing mind are together. If you can be aware of the mind state, then the object is already there.
In the beginning, we try to focus on the object repeatedly so as not to lose it. But later, if you can see the knowing mind knowing the object, then you can see both the knowing mind and the object together. So, if we take care of the knowing mind, then we can also know the physical objects and other mental activities.
◉ OBSERVING SUBTLE OBJECTS| Singapore Retreat 2014 Group 2B-2A Discussion – 141103 (1:11:00 onwards)
Subtle objects can be blur. Don’t try to make it clear. If you know that it is blur, let it be blur. Because the mind has calmed down therefore the object is subtle. At that time awareness has to be stronger to watch subtle objects; so, you have to continue to be aware to build up awareness.
People only know physical objects, but they are not aware of mental objects. For example, the physical object has settled down, and the mind is calm. Calmness is a mental state, a mind object. But people are not aware that it is also an object. Quietness is also a state of mind, but people don’t know how to observe this either. They only look for physical objects. So, just check the state of mind, how the mind feels and if awareness is present.
◉ HOW TO HANDLE THE CALM AND QUIET MIND| Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 Group B Session 4 (31:32-34:05)
First, recognize the awareness so that the awareness continues and doesn’t wallow and get attached to that state of mind. Second, when the mind is quiet, subtle things are happening in the mind and you can begin to notice that.
When the mind becomes quiet, the mind can know subtler things because the gross stuff has settled down. Second, the quietness is a state of mind. If we cannot objectively see the state of mind as a state of mind, we can be in the quietness and then the attachment, indulging and feeling good in the quietness can all start. And then we can just drift – the awareness won’t be so alert and sharp anymore. So, the ability to watch this state of mind objectively is important because the moment we know that it’s an object, something we know, then you know the awareness already.
◉ TURN RADAR INWARDS| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 6 Dhamma Discussion Group D File: 20160402 (29:20-30:15)
Come back to what you’re doing physically is also practicing to be in the present moment. If your hand moves, know that your hand is moving; if you’re looking, you know you’re looking; your leg moves, you know your leg is moving – you stay in the present moment. It will help you to keep awareness continuous and build up your focus in the present moment.
The meditator’s radar must be focused inwards, not outwards. If you’re thinking about outside things, then it’s easy to lose awareness. So, continue to stay with your physical actions. That’s enough.
◉ MEDITATION HAPPENS WHEN THE OBJECT IS NATURE| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 10 Dhamma Discussion Group D File: 20160406 (33:50-34:40)
You need to know if the mind is paying attention to concepts or nature. If you want to meditate, the object is nature. Throughout our life, our mind either pays attention to concepts or nature, one or the other. If you don’t have awareness and wisdom, the mind already pays attention to concepts; and then emotions arise.
So, if you want to meditate, change the direction of the mind; that’s all. No need to avoid the experience, you cannot avoid the object; but you need to know which way the mind pays attention – towards concept or nature.
When the mind pays attention to nature, you are already practicing meditation; whether you’re sitting, walking, or whatever.
◉ BE AWARE EACH TIME THE MIND PAYS ATTENTION| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 10 Dhamma Discussion Group C File: 20160406 (13:46-14:53)
Paying attention or focusing is also very obvious – you are either day dreaming or paying attention to something, right? Every time you pay attention, you’re aware that you’re paying attention and it becomes a habit; then, every time you pay attention, awareness is already there.
I also recommend practicing seeing and looking because of this paying attention. Every time you pay attention to seeing and looking, immediately awareness is present. If someone is aware of looking and seeing all the time, and it becomes a habit, then whenever you see or look at something, awareness is already there. We use our eye door a lot in daily life.
◉ PAY ATTENTION TO THE CORRECT OBJECT| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 4 Dhamma Discussion Group C File: 20160331 (4:38-7:17)
For example, when a fly touches you, we do not pay attention to the fly; we are aware of touching. If you pay attention to the fly, the mind doesn’t like it.
There are 2 kinds of objects: insect is concept object; touching is nature. When the mind pays attention to the touching and knowing, there is no problem; the mind does not react. But if you think mosquito, ants or some insect, then the mind immediately resists.
All defilements pay attention to concepts; wisdom pays attention to nature/reality.
When you look at the sunrise, you need to know that you’re seeing, that seeing is happening. Seeing is the meditation object, not the sun. When we practice seeing, we don’t focus on the things we see, just notice sights (whatever being seen) and the knowing. Sight is the object and knowing the sight, we call seeing.
When there is sound and knowing, we say hearing is happening. Therefore, it’s not a bird singing but just hearing. Attention is different, right? If you pay attention to the concept, to the bird, then you like. But machine sound, you don’t like. Hearing is happening, just nature – sound and knowing, we call hearing; if the mind pays attention to hearing, the mind does not react to any sound.
◉ WHAT IS MEDITATION AWARENESS| China Retreat 2014 Q&A (6 March 2014 AM; 1:08:35-1:12:40)
Yogi: If I notice that a car is passing by, is this awareness or mindfulness?
Sayadaw: Not yet, everybody knows that a car is passing by. This is not yet meditation awareness. What kind of awareness is meditation awareness?
How do you know that a car is passing by? Because of seeing and hearing, the mind begins to think of the story that a car is passing by. We already know the concept world, but we don’t know this seeing and hearing. Meditation awareness is: we know we’re seeing and we know we’re hearing.
Even a dog knows that a car is passing by; that’s why it moves away, right? So, this awareness is not meditation awareness.
For meditation awareness, you have to know your sense doors; because of seeing, because of hearing, the mind thinks about the storyline “The car is passing by!” Because of the information at the sense doors, the mind begins to think about the concept world. This world is mind created.
Yogi: When I look at the people passing by, liking and disliking arise, why?
Sayadaw: The important thing is to watch seeing rather than looking outside at the people. When you look at people, watch you’re seeing (yogi’s note: notice that seeing is happening or sights are been known). When you pay attention to concepts, defilements come; if you pay attention to nature, then wisdom comes. So which object should you be aware of?
It is important to practice seeing and looking in daily life. Otherwise, when you see many people, you’ll have plenty of defilements and then, how can you maintain your samadhi?
◉ TAKING CARE OF THE MEDITATING MIND| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 3 Dhamma Discussion Group A File: 20160330 (10:38-11:50)
The meditating mind must be wholesome. You need to learn. Sometimes experience object is defilement. Sometimes the mind is watching with defilement. Which one is more important, the watching mind or the object? The watching mind is more important; so, take care of the meditating mind.
Just practice like this: check your mind – notice if the mind is watching with defilement. Check your awareness quality first; when your mind is purified, wisdom can arise.
When wisdom is present with the awareness, you can learn something from the defilement object. That’s why the meditating mind must be purified; the purer it is, the easier for understanding to come.
The problem is that the mind is watching with defilement, that’s why it is difficult for understanding to arise. So, take care of the watching mind first.
◉ LET AWARENESS BE THE MOST IMPORTANT OBJECT| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 4 Dhamma Discussion Group D File: 20160331 (57:02-57:34)
Awareness is the main object; for us, awareness is the most important object. Only take care of this then the mind will take care of everything.
So, you need to check all the time if the mind is aware or not. Just check. Whatever you do – walking, eating or sitting – check if awareness is present or not.
◉ FACING UNPLEASANTNESS; A REAL OBJECT| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 7 Dhamma Discussion Group A File: 20160403 (36:04-38:08)
Watch your feeling first although it is unpleasant. You need to face it again and again, and then, slowly, after a long time, when you know the feeling better, then the unpleasant feeling won’t be that unpleasant. Because ‘unpleasant’ is just an idea and you need to face the feeling again and again; like people with phobia, they need to face their phobia again and again and become close to their fear. Day by day, they become closer to their fear. In the end, the mind understands that it is not fearful; and then, it is finished.
People don’t want to look at suffering. But it is a very good object, it is nature, it is real. So, you must face again and again, slowly, not all at once. When you cannot bear, back up and then try again, do it repeatedly, and slowly you become closer to the unpleasant object.
People only want more of good things; they don’t want to face anything bad. This is not Dhamma. Dhamma, whether good or bad, you need to know why it is really good or really bad. The mind thinks that it is good or bad, but the mind needs to understand if it is good or bad, different. The mind thinks that it is good or bad is delusion. If the mind really understands what is good, what is bad, this is wisdom. So, we need to know both sides – only thinking of the good side is not enough – good and bad; and then, the mind can come to the middle way. So, we need to face unpleasant situations also.
◉ STAY WITH AWARENESS| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 10 Dhamma Discussion Group D File: 20160406 (51:01-51:43)
A yogi’s place is to stay with the awareness or knowing mind; don’t stay with the object because then the yogi starts to think about the object, and it becomes easier for the yogi to pay attention to concepts. So, stay with the knowing mind; the mind just knows the object and doesn’t think too much about the concept. That is why the mind can be calm.
Try to practice like this. Try to aware of the pain and knowing, you stay with the knowing and the pain doesn’t grow much stronger. But if you pay more attention to the pain, the pain increases. If you can be aware of the knowing mind or awareness, the pain is nothing; it is not a problem because the mind is not thinking about the pain and it is more relieved.
◉ CULTIVATION OF NATURAL AWARENESS| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 9 Dhamma Discussion Group B File: 20160405 (25:49-28:05)
Talk first and then try to know that you’re talking. Try to know anything; and slowly if awareness is still there, wisdom follows and chooses what to do.
In vipassana meditation, the experience must be natural first; otherwise, you’re not natural. Focusing too much is not a natural process. First, allow natural process to happen, then bring in awareness, that’s all. You only have to do this, but yogis never follow; they focus first and then do. You have become artificial; so, you don’t know the natural process.
Do everything at normal speed, and then bring in awareness. Then, whatever you do does not stop and awareness is also working. But yogis try to focus and do things slowly – then, it’s not a natural process. Then, it’s difficult to be mindful in daily life.
When I practice, I walk first; at first, I’m not aware that I’m walking, but later I bring in awareness. Then natural process is happening and then awareness comes. Slowly, with continuous practice day by day, awareness becomes stronger and stronger and I become more skillful.
◉ BE INTERESTED IN THE PRESENT MOMENT| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya: Vietnamese Group Interview 28 July 2015 (45:30-46:00)
Before I started to practice, the mind was always busy thinking of the past and future, thinking about how to do this and that; consequently, the mind was very tense and suffering. Now the mind is very quiet and doesn’t think much.
Just be interested in the present moment and you’ll be free.
◉ DO NOT FORGET TO BE AWARE| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya Morning Q&A 19-1-2016
My teacher said: Don’t follow or create anything and don’t try to resist anything; just be aware of what is happening. A yogi follows the first two: don’t follow and don’t resist. Then whenever he meditates, he would feel sleepy all the time. He would fall down – boom, boom, boom – while sitting.
What are you doing? You’re meditating, why are you so sleepy? He said: Teacher said not to create anything and not to resist anything; just sit. He forgot the last one – be aware of what is happening in the present moment. Of these 3 things: don’t follow and not resisting concern the object/experience and the 3rd – be aware – concerns the mind.
◉ IN THE BEGINNING, RIGHT INFO IS CRUCIAL| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 3 Dhamma Discussion Group B File: 20160330 (56:52-57:37)
If understanding is not enough, it is difficult to apply right view. Therefore, try to be aware. We are not trying to think.
Just apply right view as much as you can – this is nature or whatever, but it is not working very well yet, right? Therefore, be more aware; you need to practice to be more aware continuously, not thinking about what is happening.
Try to be aware of sensations and feelings, sensations and feelings continuously. Let the mind settle down.
It is like this in the beginning because we don’t have enough experiential understanding. But we can use information first and continue to be aware.
◉ ADVICE ON EATING| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2014 Vassa Q&A File: R05-0013 (16:59-18:13)
When you eat, it is better to slow down; not too slow, but eat as if you’re not interested to eat.
If you’re interested in eating and naturally eat such, awareness is not good; so, it’s better to have good awareness when eating because if you don’t practice in detail, don’t observe closely when eating, craving is already there.
We eat food with craving our whole life long – food is craving object. Every action during eating is with craving – chewing, swallowing, taking, looking – craving is there all the time. It’s an automatic habit.
◉ EATING WITH FULL AWARENESS| China Feb 2014 Retreat – File: 20140201 (27:23-33:06)
Once I was eating with my teacher – my teacher would always ate upright and could know what was happening around him – and when he saw my eyes looking at a bowl of curry twice, he handed me that bowl. He knew my nature very well. Even before I knew, he already knew what I wanted. When I wondered why he gave me that bowl, I realized that he had seen my eyes.
My teacher was always aware of every sense door. When eating, he never bent down to eat because that was the nature of craving. Craving wants to be near the food to eat it. He would bring the food to the mouth, not the other way around. The way my teacher ate was very different from other people. He would eat elegantly. Then he could also see what was happening around him. Without you telling him, a wise person already knows because action and words reveal the mind, because body and mind are related and the eyes and the face are the windows to the mind.
People were afraid of my teacher – his eyes penetrated you when he looked at you. When my teacher wanted to know something about the person, he would scrutinize him from head to toes and listen attentively to what he was saying. When he was thinking, he would tap his fingers. We knew each other so well that sometimes we would look at each other and understood what each other was thinking without having to say a word.
◉ HOW TO WATCH THOUGHTS| IMS Retreat 2014 24-04/27 Dhamma Discussion Group B1 (24:54-27:15)
In the beginning of the retreat, don’t watch thoughts continuously. When you know that the mind is thinking, acknowledge it and come back to your body. If the mind thinks again, again acknowledge it and come back to the body. So, keep re-anchoring your awareness on the body, again and again for several days at least; don’t stay with the thoughts.
At some point you can see that you’re observing the thoughts, that thoughts are objects, just something to be known. Then you can observe thoughts a bit more. At that point, you can observe what is motivating the thoughts; either defilement or something wholesome. When you can see the thought as an object, that’s when you can explore what is motivating the thought.
Right now, just acknowledge and come back to the body; we’re just trying to build the awareness. We’re trying to make the awareness stay within us, mostly in our body.
◉ WATCHING RECURRING THOUGHTS| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya: Vietnamese Group Interview 24 Oct 2015 (21:13- 23:06)
When I was young I did many bad things – in fact, I tried every bad thing. I liked to be bad. I couldn’t stand to be good; whenever I did anything good, the mind would say something was wrong and I had to do something bad. I had to do bad things continually.
When I became a practicing layperson, every time I passed by Chinatown, I would feel remorse and regret because I remembered all the bad things I did there; but I watched, watched and watched my feelings – how many times I don’t remember. Every time this object, this experience came, remorse and regret would arise because of ‘I’ – ‘I’ was bad because ‘I’ did bad things previously. But I checked my mind – feeling and thoughts, feelings and thoughts – repeatedly.
One day when remorse and regret thinking arose, the mind suddenly realized that they were just thoughts, that images were just images, they were not me. Then, remorse and regret totally stopped and thereafter every time I passed through Chinatown my mind was very peaceful.
◉ SKILFULLY OBSERVING THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS| Spirit Rock 2015 Group C Session 1 (24:10 – 30:20)
Say a physical sensation – you know the physical sensation, that’s clear. As you watch the physical sensation, you can do the same thing with the feeling that comes with being worried. You can watch it in the same way.
Sometimes when we are observing the feeling that comes with the worrying mind, the mind continues to think about what it is worrying about. And then it can become blurred. You can’t differentiate between the worrying and the feeling that you’re observing. So, it’s like there is awareness and there is worrying happening at the same time.
Practice building up skillfulness at recognizing feeling and observing feeling, and skillfulness at recognizing thoughts and observing thoughts. Then you can differentiate between feelings and thoughts.
For beginners, do this. You know that when there is a thought, there is an associated feeling. When there is a thought and a feeling, first look at the thought. And sometimes the thought will stop when you look at it. When it stops temporarily, you use the opportunity to look at the feeling that it leaves behind. And then the thought starts again, you look at the thought. And when it stops, you look at the feeling. Do this repeatedly; but when we look at the thought we have to be alert that we don’t get lost in the train of thought. So we have to be conscious of the awareness that it is still aware all the time, almost mechanically, so that you are more on the side of awareness rather than in the stream of thoughts.
If the thoughts are not stopping – because the exercise is that when thought stops, come back to feeling – then don’t watch the thoughts. Go back to a neutral physical sensation.
◉ AWARENESS IS AN ANTIDOTE TO THINKING AND JUDGING| Bangkok Retreat 2015 – 8 Nov Group C1 Q&A (47:27-48:16)
Your antidote is awareness. Whatever happens, whatever your mind thinks, be aware of it. So your mind judges, be aware that the mind is judging. Your mind doesn’t like it, be aware that the mind doesn’t like it. The mind thinks about it again, be aware that it is so. Just follow everything with awareness; awareness after awareness after awareness.
This is the first thing you need to do – be continuously aware of all these. Now what is happening is that you’ve a little bit of awareness and you start to think about it – you stop being aware that you’re thinking. You want to keep being aware – the awareness has to be very persistent, hang on like a dog on a bone; just don’t let go – one new object after another after another, just hang on.
◉ AWARENESS COLLECTS DATA| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya: Vietnamese Group Interviews 2011 Sept 25 (1:15-2:45)
The duty of awareness is to collect data. When the data collection is complete, then wisdom can come. Learn to walk before you can run.
◉ AWARENESS LEADING TO CONFIDENCE| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya: Vietnamese Group Interviews 2011 Sept 25 (17:50-18:27)
The nature of awareness is that when you’re continuously aware confidence naturally arises. Then you become interested and you want to meditate.
◉ THE BENEFITS OF AWARENESS| Bangkok Retreat 2015 – 7 Nov Group A1 Q&A (45:23-46:45)
The quality of awareness is such that if we even have 5 minutes of continuous awareness, you will notice a change in the quality of your mind. It is stated in the scriptures that when mindfulness is continuous, piti (rapture or joy) and confidence arise in the mind. The mind feels strong and stable. To experience that can really be wonderful.
◉ CORRECT WAY TO VIEW PHENOMENA| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya: Vietnamese Group Interview 28 July 2015 (32:20-37:35)
People seldom understand that arising and passing away is dukkha; in contrast, not arising is freedom.
There are 2 ways to view phenomena: the result of arising and passing away is nothing; and the result of not arising, not happening is also nothing. If you’re not meditating, many things would have been happening [yogi’s note: I want this, I want that; I want to eat this and do that] and you would have suffered. Now all this suffering does not happen; how much relief do you get?
◉ MEDITATE WITH EYES OPEN| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya: Vietnamese Group Interview 1 August 2015 (48:00-51:59)
I recommend people not to close the eyes; they over focus with the eyes closed. If you open your eyes you cannot over focus because 80% of the time the mind’s attention naturally goes to the eyes.
You over concentrate and use too much energy when sitting. Don’t close your eyes; just sit, open the eyes and be aware that you’re looking. Now open your eyes and know your body when you’re sitting. Are you tense? It’s better this way.
People close their eyes and force too much; it becomes a problem because they don’t even realize that they’re forcing. You like to concentrate; that’s why you use a lot of energy. If the awareness is the same either with your eyes closed or opened, then the awareness is stronger with your eyes open [yogi’s note: it can gather more information from 6 senses rather than 5].
◉ RECOGNIZING MIND BY ITS MANY FUNCTIONS| China Feb 2014 Retreat – File: 20140201 (34:00-43:25)
The mind is more than just thinking. If you don’t know, you cannot watch. Because the yogi thinks that the mind is only thinking, he tries to watch thinking only and when it disappears, he doesn’t know other minds.
How do you know you have a mind? Knowing or consciousness of the 6 sense doors, is the mind. Do you know mental feelings? Do you know intentions? Intentions or cetana are also the mind.
And paying attention is also very obviously the mind; paying attention to this and paying attention to that, it is the function of the mind. Paying attention, looking and listening are the same: paying attention with the eyes is called looking; paying attention with the ears, we call listening. They have the same function of paying attention although the door is different.
If you ask a yogi where’s your mind and he says: It is here. That means he’s paying attention there. He naturally knows that he’s paying attention although he cannot separate the mind that pays attention from other minds.
Do you know touching? Do you know the touching or the knowing? Touching and the knowing are very different although they happen together. Everybody notices the touching because it is obvious, but people don’t realize that there is the knowing mind. If you know the mind, the knowing mind becomes obvious.
That’s why my teacher always asks me: “What do you know? What do you know? What do you know?” Slowly, slowly, I begin to recognize the knowing mind, the mind that knows the object.
◉ OBSERVING ONESELF| Bangkok Retreat 2015 – Dhamma Discussion Group A2 2015.11.09 (1:35:00-1:37:30)
Think that you are, the one who is trying to be aware as one person and the feelings as another person. And you’re watching that person continuously. That will give you a bit of distance; don’t become the feeler. You will still feel; but know the feelings, not become the feelings.
Observe your breath – how is your mind observing the breath? Can you bring that same attitude, that same detached observing to the feelings? So, the feelings become the breath. When you’re watching the breath, are you thinking much about it? When you’re watching the feelings, are you thinking much about it?
Compare how you observe the breath with how you observe feelings.
◉ AWARENESS ENABLES CHOICE| Bangkok Retreat 2015 – Dhamma Discussion Group A2 2015.11.09
As we practice awareness, we are changing our old habits of being with the world of speaking, acting or thinking through our greed, aversion and delusion to speaking, thinking and doing with more awareness and wisdom; and also with loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.
Sayadaw wants to tell us how important awareness can be although in the moment it doesn’t seem to be significant because delusion is such a huge part of our mind. We see all the time, but we don’t even know that we see. That’s how big our delusion is. We see, we hear but we don’t recognize the mind that is at work.
When there is awareness, the mind has a choice; therefore mindfulness gives understanding the chance to arise.
In our lives, we get into trouble for days or even a long time when we speak impulsively, mostly with anger. We have no time to think because anger is so strong. So awareness gives us a chance to choose to do the right thing and for wisdom to be present.
So, when we know what is happening in the mind, even if it is wanting to say something angrily, if we know that mind, there is a possibility for us to choose whether to say it or not; there is some restraint just from being aware, not from controlling.
◉ NOTICE ABSENCE OF SUFFERING| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya: Vietnamese Group Interview 29 August 2015 (2:50-6:00)
Yogi: In a retreat, with intensive practice, I only managed to experience a small measure of peace; it looks like an uphill battle when I return to busy daily life with lots of defilements waiting.
Sayadaw: Peacefulness is not important; absence of suffering is important. You need to notice that every time you’re mindful, you do not suffer. You need to know that the mind is not suffering; peacefulness is not important.
Peacefulness and neutral mind – which is superior? If you have peace without wisdom, you become attached; but it is only arising from wisdom that the mind becomes neutral.
◉ UNNECESSARY TO LABEL AS MIND ALREADY KNOWS| China Retreat 2014 Q&A (2 March 2014 AM; 50:26– 54:44)
Yogi: It is difficult to listen attentively to the contents of a talk and still be aware that listening is happening. Do I listen and at the same time remind myself by labeling ‘listening, listening’?
Sayadaw: It is not necessary to label. Just be aware of the process. The mind is very fast; if you label then you’re holding back awareness.
If you’re listening more, then awareness is weak because your awareness hasn’t become a habit yet. Now you start to be aware, right? The awareness is from personal effort. Listening is also from personal effort. Then awareness is difficult. When awareness becomes natural, you don’t have to force to be aware but awareness is already there, at that time it is very easy to be attentive to the talk and yet be aware.
For beginners when awareness hasn’t become a habit yet, it is very difficult because when the mind pays attention to outside job, awareness is gone. If you try to be aware inside, because you’re putting in 100%, you cannot do outside things; you cannot read a book, you cannot watch TV, you cannot listen to what others say because you’re only aware inside. This is because you use all energy to force the awareness.
That’s why I say don’t focus too much and make awareness a habit day by day, day by day; awareness is present, awareness is present. Then awareness becomes natural awareness, not from personal effort. There is no need for personal effort because natural effort arises due to momentum. Moment to moment, moment to moment awareness gains momentum and the awareness becomes a habit. When it becomes a habit, we don’t have to exert energy. At that time, awareness does its job and the mind also does its job. Then you can see clearly that both are working.
◉ KNOWING THE BODY-MIND RELATIONSHIP| China Retreat 2014 Q&A (5 March 2014 PM; 17:52-27:30)
If you’re aware of the body [yogi’s note: the 5 physical senses – seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching], it is easier for the mind to calm down. It helps watching thoughts and feelings. That’s why we also need to watch the body – there is no need to think – as watching the body is direct experience. It is easier to build up awareness and make it continuous. When the mind calms down, you can clearly see feelings. Then you can better understand nature; and the mind becomes better and better.
If your mind is not peaceful enough, then you cannot watch the mind activity. If the mind is more calm and peaceful, then you can watch the mind better. You should watch both the body and the mind together.
The important thing is not the object; we use the object to grow our awareness. When you habitually observe the body, you can also see the body-mind relationship. Body sensations help you to be aware of the present moment, it makes it easier.
We also need to know bodily sensations because we have attachment that this body and mind is ‘me’. So we try to understand that their nature is nature; so bodily sensations are also not personal and likewise mind process is also not personal. When this understanding arises, your mind changes because when any understanding arises, the defilements become weaker and weaker. When defilements become weaker and weaker, wholesome mind increases. That’s why we need to also observe the body to know the body and mind relationship.
◉ EVERY MOMENT OF AWARENESS COUNTS| China Retreat 2016 02/27 Interview 4 (Visitors 1) (46:45-48:17)
Yogi: In daily life, when I need to be fast, to rush, I cannot be mindful
Sayadaw: Even when you have to rush, you can just know generally, not in detail. If you need to act fast, you can still know as much as you can. (Don’t think that if the situation is not ideal and awareness cannot be detailed, then it doesn’t count.)
Actually, knowing is not nothing; knowing is something. Don’t lose your awareness; knowing and do what you do – awareness in the present moment, that’s enough.
[Yogi's note: When you read the above with TS’s advice to another yogi (below) a more complete picture unfolds.]
Know your mind under any circumstance [yogi's note: e.g. during festive seasons] and then do whatever you do. Try, that’s all. Know your mind and then do whatever.
You can do this, even when the defilements overwhelm you, you can still try to be aware – let one mind say: I want to know; still knowing, try to know. If you try to practice, you can be aware.
◉ BENEFITS OF AWARENESS| China Retreat 2014 Q&A (6 March 2014 AM; 51:54-53:18)
Every time you are aware and the defilements decrease, suffering decreases too.
Now you are relieved by that much; but you should continue to investigate. Now you watch the anger and it disappears; how much percentage relief do you feel? This is to encourage further learning; if you are satisfied that the anger has disappeared, then you won’t learn anymore and understanding cannot increase.
If you have not watched the anger, how much anger will continue? It will keep growing, right? For some people, if they are angry even with their family members they could be angry for life; they cannot stop. This anger continues to happen. So, how much relief can you get when the anger stops? If you have not watched and stopped the anger, what could have happened next?
◉ JUST KNOW IS ENOUGH| Singapore 2014 Retreat Guided Meditation 141102 & 141103
If you are aware, that’s enough. No need to focus, no need to try hard.
Don’t try to look for fine details in what you are experiencing. The important thing is just to grow the strength of the mind by continuously being aware. When the mind is stronger, it will naturally do its own work. To be able to see greater detail is the work of wisdom, when the mind naturally becomes stronger. Your work is only to keep the mindfulness continuous which will strengthen the mind.
Be careful of the amount of energy you’re putting into each moment of awareness. When you remind yourself to be mindful or think about being mindful, awareness is automatically there; in a way becoming mindful without using energy – just the power of right thought.