THE MIND CANNOT ‘WANDER’

| Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary Retreat 2008 Opening Instructions (59:05-1:00:00)

We use this term wandering mind. Does the mind wander away? Does it actually wander away? Has the mind really gone far away?

If you think this mind has gone somewhere else, that is wrong understanding. The mind’s nature is only to arise and pass away; the mind is not able to wander anywhere.

The mind arises here and disappears right away, right here. If you have this right view, do we need to think that we need to bring our mind back from somewhere? No.

When we have the wrong idea – we think the mind can wander away – then we do the wrong practice; we try to bring it back using unnecessary energy.

All we have to do is recognize, recognize that the mind is thinking; that’s all.

DISCERNING THE MENTAL APART FROM THE PHYSICAL

| USA Maui Retreat 2016 Q&A 2016-11/19 (1:05:22-1:07:02)

When there is hunger – hunger and wanting to eat – where do you feel the hunger? And where does the wanting to eat happen? The difference is very clear. Where does the wanting to eat happen – is there a place for it? No, right? Do you see the difference between what is the body and what is the mind?

It’s the same with other feelings. If you take sadness or happiness, and you think you feel it in the body, what’s it that you feel in the body? Sensations, right?

And then if you take the quality of sadness, can you know the quality of sadness without the body?

In the same way as for hunger and wanting to eat, you will be able to see the difference between the sensations of the body that reflect the sadness, which are manifestations of the sadness, and the quality of sadness itself which is mental.

HELPFUL TO RECOGNIZE WRONG ATTITUDE

| USA Maui Retreat 2016 2016-11/20 Q&A (36:27-37:24)

Sometimes we don’t recognize we have wrong attitude and so we continue; and then at some point we recognize we have wrong attitude ‘Oh, yeah, wrong attitude; that’s why it’s not working! Well, okay; now I see wrong attitude, wrong attitude, wrong attitude.’

Sometimes, it seems to go away. ‘Oh, no wrong attitude; it feels fine now!’ And sometimes, it comes back and we don’t realize; and we recognize it again. That’s part of the process.

The helpful thing about knowing wrong attitude is that it’s not sneakily disturbing us. It’s still there functioning, but it’s better to know what is happening now than to not know and seem to be struggling with something.

ATTITUDE DETERMINES THE PERSPECTIVE SEEN

| Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary Retreat 2008 Opening Instructions (41:21-42:51)

I’m not interested in the results, the experiences. I’m interested in the work – what were you doing that led to this? That’s called wisdom. When you understand the cause-effect process – understanding how something is done – that is the wisdom; the experiences are really not important.

There was a yogi who sat and watched pain for an hour – he reported that pain increased, pain decreased, pain increased, pain decreased; and that his meditation was going in circles.

What I saw was this yogi had been meditating for an hour; he was aware for one whole hour. He has had one hour of awareness.

That’s the difference between wrong attitude and right attitude – it’s a different perspective of the same situation. Wisdom sees the work that has been done; the defilement looks for the result.

The yogi sat there the whole hour hoping for the result that the pain would go away. He thought that meditation was if the pain went away. But that was wrong attitude and wrong view.

When the greed cannot get what it wants, then the mind is disappointed. But when there is right view and right attitude, then the person sees it from the right perspective – work has been done, awareness has been continuously there.

Then if the person sees that this is meditation, the person is encouraged. When there is right view, it is encouraging to the mind.

CULTIVATION IS THE NATURE OF MEDITATION

| USA Maui Retreat 2016 11/16 Last Instructions (00:04-01:49)

Meditating is something that we can’t stop doing; we must do it always. This is the nature of meditation, cultivation.

And we might think that we can meditate part time, but since this is a practice to grow, to cultivate the good qualities of the mind, it is something we have to do all the time. Because something is happening in the mind all the time, we want to make sure that what is being cultivated is good.

And if you want the good qualities that you cultivate to not only be good, but be strong and good, then we have to do it all the time. We really have to do it all the time.

RIGHT INFORMATION FACILITATES RIGHT IDEAS ABOUT MEDITATION

| Singapore Retreat 2014 141101 Discussion Group 2A (21:13-22:24)

I don’t have a one-hour sitting, one-hour walking schedule.

When we think about time and how long we should sit, it gives us stress, and it also gives us judgment “I’m a good yogi, I’m a bad yogi; long sitting yogi, short sitting yogi”. But it’s not important; what is important is the awareness, awareness all the time. I’m interested in your mind, not your posture.

When we meditate, the thing that makes us meditate is our ideas; our ideas are making us meditate the way we meditate.

So, the more right information we have, the smoother we find the practice because we have the right attitude and ideas about the practice.

[Elsewhere, Sayadaw: Sitting a long time is not important; being aware a long time is important.]

MAINTAINING MINDFULNESS

| USA Maui Retreat 2016 11/21 Q&A (02:39-4:40)

If we rely on a series of things that we should be observing, it can feel like it’s taking a long time – like you have to move your attention to your body when you move, to your feet, legs and hands; it can be stilted.

But if you can just know that you’re aware, if you can stay with your awareness, you will not only know one thing after another, it will actually feel more continuous. Try it out.

When you’re planning to change from doing one thing to another, one of the first things you’ll notice is the mind making the decision, the wanting to do things. If you notice that, you already notice the awareness; that’s how you know what’s happening.

Just ask the mind “What is the mind knowing now?”  And you can keep asking.

PRIORITIZE MINDFULNESS WHEN SPEAKING

| USA Maui Retreat 2016 11/16 Opening Instructions (1:03:55-1:04:37)

Whether you speak or not, I want you to be mindful. And it takes remembering to not speak. And it also takes a lot more remembering to be aware when you speak. So, whatever you do, if you’re going to lose your mindfulness, prioritize mindfulness please.

This is to build habits for ourselves so that even in life, we can use the same habits, do the same thing so that we can remain mindful at home.

THE CHECK BEFORE SPEAKING

| USA Maui Retreat 2016 11/21 Q&A (33:24-34:01)

Whenever we speak, we have some intentions, motivations for the reason we speak and we have some ideas for which we’re speaking; and then you can detect in your mind whether it feels comfortable or uncomfortable.

That provided me the opportunity to not speak if it was not going to be skillful because I could feel the discomfort already; and it greatly reduced the amount of regret and remorse I had because that was a huge part of my depression.

EXPERIMENTING WITH THE DELIBERATE KIND OF AWARENESS

| USA Maui Retreat 2016 2016-11/20 Q&A (49:30-51:17)

I kept my mind occupied with awareness all the time. When I was working (in the market), I had open awareness as much as I could. The moment I was sitting still, I would do something focusing.

I would put my 5 fingers in both hands together and pay attention to the set of thumbs touching. I would keep focusing until I couldn’t see the other fingers anymore. At that point, I would stop paying attention to the thumbs and go on with the next set of fingers. I would focus on this set of fingers until they were the only thing I could know and the others faded, then I would switch to the 3rd set of fingers.

I would do these exercises in all these different ways to keep the mindfulness working because when I was sitting still and left it to open awareness, I could drift into thinking. So, I made it a very deliberate kind of awareness.

Because of these exercises done on focusing, when it gained momentum maybe 9 months or a year later, it got to the point that whenever I did have defilements I started doing the focusing exercises. Say, I was anxious about something and I had a break – I would stop the thoughts and just watched the feelings, they would just disappear because of the power of the focusing I had developed; not by focusing hard, but just because of the months of continuous practice that I had put in.

[Elsewhere, Sayadaw: Somebody shows you a foot … and you can see a mile of possibilities from it.]

HOW WOULD A YOGI AWARE?

| USA Maui Retreat 2016 11/16 Opening Instructions (21:40-23:13)

If you notice a car passing by, are you aware? If we consider ourselves to be yogis, would we say we’re aware? 
How did we know that the car passed by?

When we recognize how we know the experience – we heard, we saw, we felt – when we recognize the conduits through which we recognize what we know, then, we’re aware.

How do we connect with our world? We connect to the world through our senses; all six of them, including the mind. Without these senses, we wouldn’t be connected to the outside world.

So, all these information we get through our 6 sense doors, we then interpret (thinking is happening) and make sense of the things around us.

AWARENESS NATURALLY RECEIVES MORE OBJECTS

| Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary Retreat 2013 Opening Talk and Q&A

In the beginning, we start by being aware of an obvious object – one object, two objects – that’s enough. You can use anapana or rising and falling; any object, not all six objects. 
When the mind is sharp and fast, then it can naturally know several objects. In the beginning, one by one is enough.

You start by being aware of some object; and slowly when the mind becomes stronger – awareness becomes better and better – it can naturally receive more objects: you can be aware of breathing and thinking at the same time. It comes naturally.