WISDOM (PAÑÑA) – OVERVIEW (2)
◉ WISDOM AT THE DEATHBED| Hong Kong Retreat March/April 2015 Day 6 Q&A Group A (1:30:40-1:31:34)
Yogi: How should yogis practice at the deathbed?
Sayadaw: The same way you’re practicing now.
If there is understanding, if wisdom is leading, maybe you can become an arahant after death. Last moment, you can become an arahant, right? Then, you don’t have to go anywhere; finished.
◉ WISDOM UNDERSTANDS IN MANY WAYS| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 9 Dhamma Discussion Group A File: 20160405 (37:18-37:40)
Wisdom can understand in many ways; not only one way. What it understands, it expresses, that is all.
◉ SHWE OO MIN SAYADAW'S WISDOM| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 8 Dhamma Discussion Group C File: 20160404 (1:19:51-1:25:14)
I learned from my teacher that vipassana wisdom mind has broad overview – it is never closed, never solely focused. When defilement is leading in the mind, it becomes focused and cannot be aware of many things.
For example, once I was in the midst of talking excitedly to my teacher, then, he suddenly mentioned that a certain person was coming. I was shocked – I didn’t know, but my teacher did because he was aware of the distant sound of a car. I was focusing, but he didn’t. His mind was open – he could pay attention to me and still receive other objects. So, he could also notice a distant sound.His mind was open, not focusing all energy on one thing.
Whichever object is more important, he will give more attention; if it’s not important, the mind would be open to all objects.
There was another incident when my family visited our teacher. There was a tree behind the window where he sat. All of a sudden while talking, he asked us to go and water that tree. So, my brother went and saw that a snake was biting a frog nearby. The frog was yelling; we didn’t hear, but our teacher did. His mind was so clear, calm and open – he was aware of other subtle sounds, not only involved in what you were talking.
Now, we are talking, we are focusing on the subject, we don’t know other things right? But not my teacher’s mind – that is vipassana wisdom. We were shocked – he didn’t say to go and rescue the frog from the snake, but to water the tree. He didn’t want to show others that he knew. He was a super wise person.
◉ WISDOM REVEALS A TOTALLY NEW PERSPECTIVE| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 7 Dhamma Discussion Group B File: 20160403 (38:38-42:06)
Once I was in a forest that was filled with loud cricket sounds. The mind kept saying that it was just an object; but suddenly it saw something totally new. A thought arose – except for this sound, the forest was quiet. Before that thought, it was only knowing the sound, never once knowing the quiet. Although the quiet was already there, the mind didn’t understand this. Later, the mind shifted to see this object. Wow, the mind was so happy.
When wisdom grows, it shows the mind something new – except for the cricket sound, the whole forest was quiet. In the beginning, the mind only knew the sound because the silence was more subtle. Later, the mind could notice the silence and noise at the same time.
Another time, when I woke up, it was very silent, totally silent. The mind said: “Wow, nice!” Another mind said: “Quiet is quiet; so what!” Different minds do their job – craving says that it is nice and likes it. But wisdom mind doesn’t allow it – wisdom sees the craving mind coming and says: “Just quiet, so what!”
◉ DANA, SILA, BHAVANA| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 6 Dhamma Discussion Group C File: 20160402 (29:55-30:59)
Development of dana, sila, bhavana in progression is not all the time like this for everybody. For some, they don’t have dana and sila when they start to practice meditation, but when they understand, dana and sila follow because the mind changes. Some people, they are intelligent but they don’t know the technique nor have the information how to practice; they do the wrong way. But when they get the right idea, their wisdom wakes up. Then the mind can change.
Some people, they are very bad their whole life long, but somehow it can change when they have learnt something – when they understand something, then their whole life changes; and then dana also can do, and sila also can do. This is human nature.
Basically, it’s dana, sila and bhavana in that order; but not my practice. I start by meditating.
◉ LIVING LIFE THE BEST WAY| Kalaw Retreat 2016 Day 4 Dhamma Discussion Group C File: 20160331 (48:00-49:17)
If you take care of your mind all the time, you live life the best way. Which one is the best way? The wisdom way.
The best way is when all your mental actions, verbal actions and physical actions are led by wisdom. But for now, our mental, verbal and physical actions are led by defilements; that’s why we have to turn them around.
That’s why we need to watch our mind states all the time. It starts at the level of our subtle mind – that’s when defilements are coming all the time. So, mental state first, when it becomes stronger, it leads to verbal and physical states. You must change your mental process. Now whenever we watch our mind we see that defilements are leading all the time.
So, you must practice watching your mind; for how long, we don’t know?
◉ SHARPENING WISDOM| China Feb 2014 Retreat – File: 20140201 (1:00:00-1:03:20)
Dhamma vicaya, the 2nd factor in the 7 Factors of Enlightenment, is Dhamma investigation. Investigation is using your wisdom. You need to use wisdom constantly to sharpen it; and when there’s wisdom, you know how to be aware lightly and the defilement is finished; there is no need to focus and use a lot of energy just like in this story.
In a village of woodcutters there’s an old woodcutter who would go to the forest later but return earlier with more firewood than the younger, stronger woodcutters. His secret is that he would take pains to sharpen his axe every night while the young woodcutters don’t.
◉ UNDERSTANDING ROLES OF CONCEPT| Spirit Rock Retreat 2014 Group D Session 1 Q&A (54:41- 56:54)
The paradox of reality and concept is that we can’t truly separate them; that although the reality is as it is, we need concepts to think about reality and they coexist harmoniously in this paradigm. So, while we understand reality, we still need concepts in our daily life.
So, like the Brahma Viharas – metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha – the objects of these wholesome minds are actually concepts, but still you’re developing wholesome mind using concepts. When you practice vipassana, you just know things as they are. Reality and concept, they have their different roles, each in its own sphere.
If you know how to use them appropriately, that’s wisdom. If we do not understand and we are just believing that everything is ‘me’ and firing from that gun, then yes, that’s delusion.
So, in the understanding of reality, yogis often mistake that if they understand reality then there are no more concepts. We must not only understand reality, but what concepts are as well. We are not getting rid of concepts; we understand them for what they are.
◉ UNDERSTANDING CONCEPTS AND REALITY| IMS Retreat 2014 Group B (30 April 2014; 30:35- 38:06)
We can only think about the leg, we cannot directly experience the leg. In fact you cannot know a leg. We can know sensations in the leg, but the leg is a form we have to think of. We cannot directly experience a leg, but we can experience sensations.
There was a yogi. As he was walking his awareness was getting very good. He had been observing sensations in the legs. And suddenly the sensation was in front of his face. But the yogi thought that it was wrong; he moved his attention back down to where he thought it should be and continued to be aware. But because the awareness was very strong and it feels like it was in front of the mind, the sensation went back to his face. When he went to tell the teacher, the teacher said that he could only think of where the leg should be, but sensations are only being known by the mind and that was what he was experiencing, whether we know the sensations of the nose, or the leg, or wherever; but the experience we are experiencing are just the sensations, we are not knowing the nose or the leg.
A lot of yogis get shocked when the form disappears. They think that the body has disappeared. They don’t realize that the mind is thinking about or not thinking about the form. The mind is not paying attention to the form we remember as the body, that’s why it feels like the body is disappearing but of course it is still there.
Both concepts and reality must be understood for what they are; we’re not trying to get rid of anything. When we learn how to watch the mind, we can actually watch perception doing its work. Perception is the one that is doing the work of imaging, of remembering what forms are like, naming things, giving conventions. That’s sanna, perception. And we can actually watch it do its work and understand that this is the work of conceptualizing. With more understanding of that with time, when we know the mind’s activities, then we start to understand that wisdom is doing its work of understanding reality and wisdom also understands that perception is doing its work of conceptualizing and living in this world. For example, when we hear a sound, knowing what sound it is, identifying the sound and where it comes from, is done by perception. Understanding that this is sound and this is hearing is wisdom, is nature. And understanding both concept and reality is also wisdom. Concepts are necessary for us to function in daily life. It has its place; you just have to know that’s what’s happening.
When we walk, our mind is totally conceptualizing the distance, depth and height of the steps we need to take to keep walking without falling. So, we won’t be able to function if we don’t conceptualize.
So you’re getting a clearer idea of what a concept is and what reality is. Because you’re tuning in more to reality, you can see the difference between what reality is (because you’re experiencing it directly) and what is concept (what you can only think about). And it is not that we get rid of concepts. As we understand reality better, then we coexist with concepts because that’s the way this world is made, knowing clearly that this is concept and this is reality.
For example, you cannot eat chicken or banana because chicken and banana are concepts. You can only think about them, but you cannot experience them.
You cannot know a chicken or a banana; you can only experience their tastes.
Understanding concepts and reality gives us an insight into pain and suffering – the separation and process of: bodily sensations, mental feelings and identification (idea of ‘self’). Sensations and feelings are reality (conditioned happenings) while the idea of self is a concept (just like a chicken or a banana). So, check again when the mind says: My leg hurts!
◉ CHANGING POSTURE WHEN THE MIND IS TOO TENSE| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya Morning Q&A 19-1-2016
The mind is related to our posture. Some yogis are very tense; so, they need to relax the body. If they lean back or lie down during meditation, then the body will relax. Walking and standing are more tense for the mind; sitting is more relaxing and leaning back is even more so. And if you lie down, it is so relaxing that yogis usually fall asleep.
If you know that the mind state and the body are related, then you know how to use the body to calm the mind by changing the posture. So, sometimes when we cannot change our mind and we cannot watch our mind, then we change the object, our posture, to calm the mind.
Likewise, we can view samatha practice as changing the object.
◉ THE NATURE OF WISDOM| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2014 Vassa Q&A File: R5_006; 20:09 onwards
Wisdom always knows what is happening clearly and in detail. This is the nature of wisdom. Wisdom nature means the mind understands what is good, what is bad; what is right, what is wrong; what is the cause and what is the effect.
[Elsewhere: Wisdom always knows what should or not, need or not, necessary or not, suitable or not. Wisdom is never involved with the object; it is relaxed and it steps back. Defilements are always involved with the object.]
The nature of wisdom knows from different angles – once it understands the cause, it already understands the effect. If the mind only understands one way, then wisdom is still weak. For example, if you understand that it’s white, then you already know why it is not black.
◉ HOW WILL TRUE CHANGES TAKE PLACE?| Bangkok Retreat 2015 – Dhamma Discussion Group D1 2015.11.09
Yogi: Sometimes when I think that I understand a bit, and the changes happen for a bit in real life but then the mind gets sucked into the old habit pattern – get angry, get fearful and all that. How does insight then carry through to real changes?
Sayadaw: Because there is not enough practice, the result is that the mind is not skillful enough; there is not enough insight.
We watch fear or any other emotion so that when it subsides that is the like the gateway, the point where an insight may arise; it may or may not arise, but that’s when insight is most likely to arise.
So, watch and learn. Every day you need to learn something from your fears, anger and anxiety. Then your understanding will be stronger and stronger.