EVERYTHING IS GOOD WHEN WISDOM LEADS

|China 2018 Retreat File: 20180529 Q&A 5 (26:47-28:56)

Yogi: When I check my attitude while observing bodily pain, the practice becomes smooth.

Sayadaw: Yes, you can observe any object if you have right attitude.

Whatever you do, check your mind and attitude first – if your attitude is right, whatever you do is good. Conversely, if the attitude is wrong, everything becomes a problem.

Right attitude (wisdom) is the most important thing in everything we do – it should be the leader.

WHEN CANNOT SLEEP, MAKE IT AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE MINDFUL

|Sweden Retreat 2019 Interviews Day 2 Group A (17:37-18:50)

When you’re awake at night, remember to be mindful because if the mind isn’t, it’ll start to think. If you just leave the mind alone at night, if you don’t give it work to do, thinking will proliferate – it’ll think of happy, sad, exciting, or boring things – and that tires the mind.

When the mind is aimless wondering and thinking, it tires the mind. If you give the mind work to do – when it’s mindful whenever you’re awake – then, there’s no problem.

So long as what you’re cultivating in the mind while you’re awake is wholesome – whether it’s metta, or awareness, samathi and wisdom – if all that are working, then you don’t have to worry about getting as much sleep as other people do.

The mind shouldn’t be getting momentum in becoming unwholesome as when the mind is aimless.

DIFFERENT MINDS DO DIFFERENT WORK

|Sweden Retreat 2019 Interviews Day 2 Group A (44:30-47:53)

Yogi: I’m a professional dancer and I find it very hard to sit still – first, my mind goes in a diagonal direction to the right and I call it back along the same direction before I feel an emotion or something. I have become attached to the visual image.

Sayadaw: It’s normal for the mind to conceptualize its experience. When the mind does this, there are 2 parts that are happening – there’s the reality of what is happening and there’s the conceptualizing/visualizing of what is happening.

Let the visualization continue while in your awareness you try to stay with the intensity of the feeling. Recognize the intensity while the rest of the mind is doing the visualization – you just recognize the feeling as it increases and decreases.

WHY DOES THE YOGI FEEL LIKE THE BODY HAS GROWN HUGE?

|China 2018 Retreat File: 20180531 Q&A10 (32:33-33:50)

Yogi: During the morning sit, I felt that the body grew very big.

Sayadaw: It is actually the mind thinking about form. Our memory or perception (sanna) already knows our body – where the head and hands are, and how big they are. Sanna already knows. 

When we meditate, because the mind is calm, the body sensations change. Because we close our eyes, the mind gets the information wrongly. The mind tries to think what the new sensations look like, that’s why the big form appears. It is the mind creating the form by thinking.

If you want to know if it’s real or not, open your eyes; then, you can understand that it is the mind thinking, it is not real.

THE SKILL OF WATCHING EMOTIONS

|China 2018 Retreat File: 20180530 Q&A 8 (1:21:31-1:24:12)

Yogi: When we watch emotions, we should see them as dhamma nature, not “my” emotions, right?

Sayadaw: Yes, but the mind doesn’t understand it very well yet. We can only use it at the intellectual level.

We don’t understand dhamma nature deeply, but we can still think and accept it superficially. If you can apply that much is good enough.

You need to watch and learn more to deepen your understanding of dhamma nature.

In the meantime, when emotions arise, you can think that everyone has emotions, not only you. It is a natural process – then, as much as you can, be aware of the emotion. Just know that the emotion is happening.

Now you can feel the emotion, right? Continue knowing like that. Staying with emotion continuously is awareness. Later, there may be some realization about the emotion.

Yogi: The anger can calm down this way?

Sayadaw: No, we’re not trying to calm down. If wisdom doesn’t arise, the emotion will not calm down.

Just try to be aware of the emotion is enough. Whether the emotion calms down or not is not the yogi’s responsibility.

As much as you can, try to face the emotion; if the emotion increases and you cannot maintain the awareness, then you should change to a neutral object. When the mind calms down, you then go back to watching the emotion. Do like this, okay?

GETTING EXCITED OVER THE RETREAT INTERVIEW

|China 2018 Retreat File: 20180531 Q&A10 (1:04:04-1:04:55)

Yogi: I think and obsess over what I want to say at the interview.

Sayadaw: You need to watch your mind and calm down first. You start to think a lot because you get excited over the interview. 

So, calm the mind first and then think what you want to say – one or two important points are enough, not everything you want to say. 

If you want to say too much, you become more confused because you get excited and start to think a lot. 

HOW TO EXPERIENCE ‘A FEELING IS JUST A FEELING’

|Sweden Retreat 2019 Interviews Day 2 Group A (15:30-19:39)

Yogi: I have an attachment to the sitting posture because the sitting is the essence – the most beautiful and the most terrible, everything is in the sitting; I feel beyond everything.

Sayadaw: Whatever you experience in your sitting, instead of describing it to yourself, to just watch the feeling. Don’t name the feeling, just watch the feeling. Don’t give it a description, just watch the feeling – a feeling is just a feeling.

The feeling is an object – we can describe it in many ways, but that goes into the concepts; we want to get into the nature of what a feeling is.

So, when you sit and you feel this, just stay with the feeling. Recognize that the mind interprets, but don’t get attracted to the interpretations; stay with the feeling.

Can you do that?

SHWE OO MIN SAYADAW’S ADVICE: GROUND OUR CONCEPTUAL WORLD ON REALITY

Thinking “If you’re good then I’ll be good” actually implies “If you’re not good, I will be bad”. This is really a frightful attitude.

A truly virtuous person is one who remains virtuous regardless of how others behave.

(Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw)

Our actions are invariably based on liking (lobha) and disliking (dosa). If we stay aware of the quality of our mind every time we act, then we are like ‘a virtuous person who remains virtuous regardless of how others behave’.

IT’S THE MIND QUALITY, NOT THE PERSON THAT DETERMINES GOOD OR BAD

|China 2018 Retreat File: 20180531 Q&A 10 (11:11-12:20)

Nobody is bad all the time – we’re sometimes good and sometimes bad. When you have a good heart and mind, then you’re a good person. When you have defilement, you’re a bad person. It’s the same with everybody.

Nobody can be good or bad all the time. If the mind is good, we say it’s a good person, and the converse is true.

Everyone has a mixture of good and bad qualities of mind. Don’t judge yourself too rigidly.

Sometimes we’re smart and other times, stupid. When we’re deluded, we become stupid. It’s the mind quality, not the person that determines that.

IT’S THE MIND QUALITY, NOT THE PERSON THAT DETERMINES GOOD OR BAD

|China 2018 Retreat File: 20180531 Q&A 10 (11:11-12:20)

Nobody is bad all the time – we’re sometimes good and sometimes bad. When you have a good heart and mind, then you’re a good person. When you have defilement, you’re a bad person. It’s the same with everybody.

Nobody can be good or bad all the time. If the mind is good, we say it’s a good person, and the converse is true.

Everyone has a mixture of good and bad qualities of mind. Don’t judge yourself too rigidly.

Sometimes we’re smart and other times, stupid. When we’re deluded, we become stupid. It’s the mind quality, not the person that determines that.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VIPASSANA SAMADHI AND SAMATHA SAMADHI

|China 2018 Retreat File: 20180527 Q&A 2 (1:33:10-1:37:27)

Yogi: I was at a center where we watched pain with a lot of courage to overcome the pain. They are practicing mindfulness meditation with a lot of forceful concentration. I’m trying to use your way to go through this practice and it’s quite confusing.

Sayadaw: There are 2 kinds of concentration – theirs is forcing on one object to calm the mind, and our approach is using right attitude and continuity of awareness. There are two approaches to stabilize the mind, to gaining samadhi – using one-pointed concentration continuously (samatha samadhi), the mind settles down; but we use right attitude and continuity of awareness (vipassana samadhi).

Vipassana samadhi and samatha samadhi are different.

We don’t use deep concentration (staying close to one object); we use stepping back (wisdom, the panorama view).

LEARN TO EXPERIENCE THE POWER OF AWARENESS OUTSIDE OF FORMAL SITS

|Sweden Retreat 2019 Interviews Day 2 Group A (20:00-21:13)

When we have mindfulness, we can experience the power of mindfulness, samadhi and wisdom. All these experiences can come through us when the awareness is present.

All it takes is for awareness to be present, and it doesn’t matter whether we are sitting, or washing the toilet, or walking so long as the mind is working in the same way for all these experiences to be available.

If you can recognize more of that, it’ll help the mind to see its attachment to sitting, and to not attribute the wholesome minds to just sitting.

IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE WHICH REALITY IS BEING AWARE OF

|Sweden Retreat 2019 Interviews Day 2 Group B (31:38-33:42)

When we choose to watch the mind all the time, we need to find out if we’re aware or lost in thoughts.

When you’re watching the mind, you should recognize which reality you’re aware of – Is the mind aware of thinking, feeling, intention, or planning? What functions of the mind are you aware of? Do you recognize that there are different functions working in the mind?

The mind is a collection of many different functions; each function has its own characteristics and work – like the functions of perception, feeling, consciousness, and volitional activity (greed, knowing, happiness, or aversion). All of them (the 4 mental aggregates) have different functions. We should recognize when and how they’re working.

It is fine if the mind feels properly grounded when you watch the mind; otherwise, come back to being aware of the body.

WHEN WE LABEL, WE TEND TO GET INTO THE CONCEPTS OR THINKING

|Sweden Retreat 2019 Interviews Day 2 Group A (06:05-08:17)

Yogi: I notice a lot of things happening in the mind. Sometimes I try to note, but the process of noting is too slow; the mind is faster. Noting works for emotions because they stay longer, but when I note ‘hearing’ or ‘seeing’, I tend to get lost.

Sayadaw: Labeling a little at the beginning is okay if it helps the mind to recognize what it is doing or to anchor the mind. But don’t make it a habit; don’t use it as a crutch.

When there are lots of things to know, then the labeling becomes messy and confusing.

There are experiences which we don’t have a convenient label for, but we know what it is. Although we cannot name it, it’s enough to know it even if we cannot name it.

(Later in the same Group A Interviews)

Sayadaw: Whatever you experience, don’t name, describe, or interpret it – just watch it. We can name, describe, or interpret it in many ways, but that goes into the concepts/thinking; we want to get into the nature of what the experience is.