HOW TO LEARN TO WATCH THOUGHTS WITHOUT FORCING

| China 2018 Retreat File: 20180528 Q&A 4 (02:00-03:54)

You need lots of practice trying to be aware of thoughts; and also some understanding that thoughts are happening in the mind door.

Every time the mind thinks, just know, just know, and try to know. You need to learn how to be aware when thinking is happening. For example, we try to be aware when we walk. It’s the same with watching thoughts.   

Awareness is not forcing to be aware – awareness must be natural. Natural awareness can do this (notice thought and awareness at the same time); if you put in personal effort, it cannot be done.

Because we’re developing natural awareness, we need to continue to be aware in a light way for a long time until it becomes a habit – it starts with trying to be aware whenever the mind thinks. It’ll take months and years of practice.

SAYADAW RELATES HIS OWN EXPERIENCE WITH NATURAL AWARENESS

| China 2018 Retreat File: 20180528 Q&A 4(02:00-03:54)

Let me tell you my experience – every time I talk, the mind already knows what I want to say. The mind has thought about what to talk and how to explain. Awareness already knows the process. If I try to be mindful, the thinking process stops.

In our daily life, without thinking, without planning or ideas, you cannot do anything. Even during eating, the mind already plans what to do and what to eat. Also, without thinking, you cannot talk.

Just know – just know whenever thinking is happening. Later, it becomes a habit that whenever thoughts arise, awareness is also present. You need to practice to this level; then awareness is not lost when the mind is thinking.

When awareness becomes a habit we don’t have to force to be aware – then, experience mind does its job; awareness does its job. At that time, awareness and thinking are happening together.

WHY DOES THE MIND RESIST PAIN?

| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2018 Vassa Q&A File: 02 - Monks 180902 (1:07:25-1:12:20)

It is because of our idea – we already have the idea that pain is no good throughout our life.

Check for yourself – the whole day long, whenever there is a little pain, we move the body. It has become a habit.

The mind resists pain because we don’t really understand what pain is. Yogis have been watching pain again and again – what have you learned from the pain?

As we grow older and older, the body will experience more aches and pain. If we understand anything about pain, the mind will react less whenever pain arises.

ANY ACTION FROM ANGER IS NOT BENEFICIAL, SO JUST STAY QUIET

| Singapore Q&A 15 March 2019 Part B (12:10-13:14)

If the mind notices every time anger arises, then we can change the outcome. In the beginning, we react each time because we’re not aware. Later, we know the mind – mental action, verbal action and physical action – these 3 processes.

If you know the mental actions, then you have a choice – you have the space – then, you can watch and learn.

It is better not to do anything when the mind is angry. When my teacher, Sayadaw Shwe Oo Min didn't like anything he would stay quiet, very quiet. He didn't say or do anything; just keeping quiet.

If you say or do anything, it is already wrong.

ANGER TOWARDS THE SICKNESS CAUSES THE MIND TO RESIST PAIN

| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2018 Vassa Q&A File: 02 - Monks 180902 (1:00:57-1:03:32)

Yogi: When I’m sick, what should I observe? I only know that the mind resists something.

Sayadaw: When you’re sick, defilement comes. You need to watch the defilement first. After the defilement is gone, you can then watch the pain, the sickness, as an object.

Before that, take your medicine first. You need to take care of the body with medicine.

Defilement is a mental disease – you need also to take care of the mental disease.

When there’s no anger in the mind, you can then use the sickness as an object.

The mind resists the pain because of anger towards the sickness. This experience is unpleasant because of anger. If there is no defilement, you can see the experience change to something that is not unpleasant.

If there is no anger any more, then the sickness becomes an interesting object.

FEAR AND ANGER ARISE WHEN MEMORIES ARE BELIEVED TO BE REAL

| Singapore Q&A 15 March 2019 Part B (02:05-4:11)

We cannot forget our memories, but our reaction to them can change (if there is wisdom).

In the past, we react a lot to our memories; but later, when memories come, we don’t react anymore because we have some understanding about the nature of emotions, or when some understanding is present; otherwise, every memory makes the mind happy or sad.

Memory is just memory – it’s nothing; it cannot make you happy or sad. Memory is just memory; just remembering, that’s all.

If you think and judge that it’s a happy memory, the mind is happy. If the mind judges that it’s good, it’s happy; but if it judges that it’s not good, the mind dislikes.

If you understand as it is: ‘Ah, memory is just memory! Inside the memory is also not me.’, then no emotion comes.

Anger arises because you believe that memory is real. You see, it hasn’t happened yet – only a memory (a thought) and already emotion arises.

For example, if you think about a car accident, how do you feel? Fear already arises, but has anything happened yet? It hasn’t happened, but fear has already arisen.

BEWARE WHEN TOO HAPPY, THE MIND TENDS TO GET INVOLVED

| Singapore Q&A 15 March 2019 Part B (00:19-00:58)

Be careful not to be involved when you’re happy because you can lose awareness and do something wrong

If you’re involved with happiness, then it becomes a habit – likewise, the mind will also be involved when you’re unhappy.

Be careful about being involved with happiness. Just notice that you’re happy and not lose awareness; that’s better.

If you’re too happy, you’ll lose awareness. That’s why some people do bad things when they’re happy.

I have experienced this many times in the past – when I was very happy, I would do something wrong or bad.

NOTICING HOW THE 5 SPIRITUAL QUALITIES OF MIND ARE WORKING

| Singapore 15 March 2019 Guided Meditation (2:32-6:01)

The meaning of object is being known. There are only 6 reality objects – sight, sound, smell, taste, body sensation and mind activity.

Simply recognizing these 6 objects is awareness.

Every time we are mindful, it means that the 5 spiritual qualities of mind are working – awareness, stability of mind, effort, faith and wisdom.

We need to understand that every time we are mindful, these 5 qualities are working.

Mindfulness is not only focusing and paying attention but awareness, stability of mind, effort, faith and wisdom working together.

Awareness means that it recognizes the object or mind. Effort means being aware moment to moment to maintain the awareness again and again. Stability of mind is a settled mind arising from right view, right thought, and right attitude. Faith is confidence in the practice, or in what you’re doing, or confidence in yourself.

Wisdom is right view, right thought, right idea; thinking about nature and that there’s nobody there. The nature of wisdom is also seeing the process in detail, seeing the process with interest.

MEDITATION CANNOT IMPROVE WITHOUT RIGHT UNDERSTANDING AND RIGHT ATTITUDE

| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2018 Vassa - Nun’s Q&A 0905 (44:20-45:23)

Yogi: We talk about what we observe, but if we don’t know exactly how to observe, we cannot get any lesson from the experience?

Sayadaw: Yes, if the watching mind is not skilful, it is difficult for wisdom to arise.

Yogi: So, it means that even after 10 or 20 years of practice, we’ll not progress?

Sayadaw: Yes, if you’re not skilled in watching the mind – if you don’t understand this process – wisdom cannot arise.

| Right Attitude (04:47-08:50)

The important thing is not to practice with craving, aversion and delusion, and don’t use too much energy.

Don’t try to get what we want – simply be aware of what is happening. Don’t create anything; don’t resist anything. Just try to be aware of what the mind can know.

Don’t fight with the object; don’t complain about the object.

What is happening in the body and mind is nature – think this way. Don’t judge that the experience is good or bad – just watch it as it is.

The main point of right attitude is to have the view that all physical and mental processes, all experiences are not personal, they are nature.

Very simple instruction is to ‘sit comfortably in any posture and be aware of an obvious object’.

From the time you wake up till you sleep, moment to moment, be aware of whatever you’re doing.

WISDOM LEADS THE MIND TO BE INTERESTED THROUGH QUESTIONING

| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2018 Vassa - Monks and Nuns’ Q&A 0920 (39:20-42:54)

A question of wisdom is not for getting an answer, but to lead the mind to be interested.

For example, I’m aware of seeing, hearing and smelling. After observing these repeatedly, suddenly a question comes: Can the mind notice seeing and hearing at the same time?

Because I keep on being aware of seeing, hearing and smelling, one at a time, suddenly the mind notices that both seeing and hearing are happening all the time. Then the mind asks: Can you know seeing and hearing at the same time, or one by one?

Sometimes the mind notices them one by one, and other times together. Then another question follows: Why and when? The question arises by itself.

It is important for yogis to be interested in what they are doing, in being aware of the experience.

But how to make the mind interested in the meditation object?

The meditation object is not interesting. How to make touching, or breathing in and breathing out interesting? Hot, cold and body sensation – they are boring. How does the yogi find interest in these meditation objects?

Interest only comes when the mind gets close to the experience repeatedly – slowly the mind understands more about the experience in detail. At that time, interest can arise.

For example: breathing in, breathing out, and touching – how to be interested in these objects?

LEARNING HOW TO WATCH AN EXPERIENCE WITH EQUANIMITY

| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2018 Vassa - Monks and Nuns’ Q&A 1002 (8:53-10:47)

I want to remind yogis a very important point. The ordinary mind normally experiences the object with lobha, dosa and moha.

But now we’re meditating – we try to learn how to watch the experience with equanimity.

For example, when pain comes, disliking comes already; and when peacefulness comes, attachment already comes.

Beginner yogis have this habit – when peacefulness comes, they get attached, and when suffering comes, they resist.

They don’t know, they are not skilful, how to watch pleasant and unpleasant objects with equanimity. They are not skilful yet because there is not enough understanding.

We try to learn – when the experience comes and the mind likes it, watch the liking first. When the liking subsides and the mind is calm again, we go back to the object. Disliking also – when suffering comes, the mind resists. Watch the resistance, and when the resistance subsides, go back to the object.

This is a learning process – much later, yogis become more skilful as they gain more understanding and the wisdom grows. When the watching mind has wisdom, the mind can then watch with equanimity.

Later, when liking and disliking come, the mind does not get attached to the object or resist the object.

This is the first step towards gaining skilfulness in watching any experience.

RIGHT VIEW HAS TO BE RECALLED BECAUSE WRONG VIEW IS THE DEFAULT STATE

| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2018 Vassa Q&A English Interviews 20180925 (1:00:20-1:01:26)

The problem is whenever we see the mind, wrong view is already there.

Wrong view is very strong – when we see the mind, we think ‘It’s my mind.’ Because we identify with the mind, every time you notice the depressed or unpleasant mind, we get more depressed.

If you can be aware of your mind state again and again, slowly, you’ll understand that the mind is not personal. The mind is also nature; it has its own cause and effect process.

If you know how to be aware of the mind, then this understanding will come.

That’s why right view is very important when we watch the mind because wrong view is already there.

THINKING IS NOT A PROBLEM; IT’S A FUNCTION OF THE MIND

| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2018 Vassa Q&A English Interviews 20180925 (1:19:35-1:20:56)

Intention and thinking are 2 different functions of the mind. Because we believe intention is me, when we intentionally think, we think that ‘I’m thinking’.

Anytime a mind state comes, thinking is already there. Loving-kindness also has the intention to think – wholesome mind has the intention to think; wisdom also thinks. 

Thinking is thinking, but lobha and dosa are different; the motivation is different.

Thinking is a different function of the mind – feeling is another function – just as defilement is another function.

If there’s lobha, then lobha thinking comes. If you’re angry, angry thinking comes. If there’s loving kindness, then loving-kindness thinking comes.

Thinking is not a problem; it’s a function of the mind. The defilement that motivates the thinking is the problem.

RIGHT THINKING SUPPORTS AWARENESS AND ENERGIZES THE MIND

| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2018 Vassa Q&A File: 02 - Monks 07292018 (05:17-9:55)

Right thinking helps you to be aware; it supports awareness. Wrong thinking is the opposite.

We need to apply awareness, and apply right thinking to maintain the awareness, not thinking of other things.

Defilement thinking tires the mind, but right thinking doesn’t make the mind tired; it energizes the mind and good energy comes.

[Yogi’s note: For example, when the mind asks ‘Is awareness present?’ – that’s right thinking.]

RIGHT ATTITUDE TOWARDS DEFILEMENTS

| Shwe Oo Min Dhammasukha Tawya 2018 Vassa - Nun’s Q&A 0905 (36:50-38:40)

Yogi: In our daily life, we should not have liking and disliking because they are defilements.

Sayadaw: It depends on your understanding – when wisdom is present, the mind does not like or dislike. If there is delusion, liking and disliking arise. You cannot stop defilements from happening.

Should or should not, does not refer to stopping defilements. You cannot say liking and disliking shouldn’t arise; should or not means not to follow or resist the defilement.

When defilement comes, we should not allow it to continue. How not to allow defilements from continuing?

We should have awareness and wisdom, and try to meditate; then, the mind cannot intentionally think about (and grow) the defilement.