UNDERSTAND HOW THE MIND CREATES CONCEPT

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 14 (30:55-32:52)

If you don’t know concepts, you cannot walk. Distance is a concept – how far you step when you walk is also a concept. Don’t try to get rid of concepts.

If the mind doesn’t think about concepts, the body cannot move. How far and how high are also conceptual. The mind needs to think about concepts.

Concept is not a problem during meditation. Yogis try to get rid of concepts when they meditate – only paying attention to reality, reality.

If the mind only understands reality, that’s not enough. It must also understand concept; then, we can use them both in daily life.

You cannot get rid of concept – without concept you cannot walk, you cannot eat, and you cannot do anything.

I need to explain this because yogis think that concept is not good, they only focus on reality. If you really understand reality, you also understand concept.

What is reality? It means that it is not concept. You need to understand what is concept, how the mind creates concept and how the mind pays attention to concept – you need to understand all these.

Wisdom understands what concept is and what reality is. Concept is sanna working – sanna is also a function of the mind.

WHEN THE MIND REALLY UNDERSTANDS, REALIZATION OCCURS

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 13 (1:06:30-1:09:55)

When yogis experience rising and passing away, they think that they understand impermanence. But it is only the sign of impermanence, not understanding impermanence yet.

Every time you see rising and passing away, don’t conclude that you understand impermanence. When the mind really understands, realization appears in the mind.

For example, a yogi may say that he truly understands impermanence, but when his slippers go missing, he still panics. That shows that the understanding is not strong. When you observe impermanence over and over again, then slowly realization arises.

Many yogis see rising and passing away, but their defilements have not changed – the mind still has much craving and anger. It meaning that wisdom is not yet working.

RECOGNIZE THE WISDOM THAT IS ALREADY WORKING

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 13 (1:31:00-1:34:40)

Many yogis don’t know if they are applying wisdom when they meditate. Because they don’t understand what is wisdom. They are not familiar with wisdom – they simply use lots of effort.

Wisdom is understanding how to do. Without understanding you cannot do anything. 

Wisdom comes from knowledge. That’s why we listen and read to get knowledge. With some intelligence, we then apply the information in our practice, that’s also wisdom.

Without this wisdom, how can we practice?

Also, we need right view – that whatever we observe is nature, cause and effect process and therefore impersonal. Although we don’t understand nature very well, we apply this knowledge first. Slowly with practice, more and more understanding comes to the mind.

Each person’s wisdom nature is different. In whatever they do, they are already using their wisdom, but they don’t realize that. They are already applying their wisdom – e.g. how to do something better.

If you pay attention, awareness is there and wisdom is already there too. Even when you cook, you are using your wisdom. So, now you know what wisdom is.

CHECKING ATTITUDE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN BEING AWARE OF OBJECTS

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 9 (01:00-03:00)

Yogi: I can be aware of many objects but I cannot notice my attitude.

Sayadaw: Checking attitude is more important than being aware of objects. It is only when the attitude is right that everything the mind does is right because if the attitude is wrong, whatever you do is wrong.

Checking that the attitude is right or wrong is the most important thing in meditation.

[Yogi’s note: Also, don’t be in a hurry to meditate. First, remember the right view, e.g. this is nature; this is cause and effect; impersonal, neither good nor bad; there is nobody there; this is Dhamma; or this is Anatta.]

Yogi: When I’m aware of the body movement during walking meditation, I cannot be aware of looking at the ground.

Sayadaw: You focus too much. Naturally, the mind already knows that it is looking at the ground and the body movement. We just need to check if the mind is aware or not. That’s enough.

(Elsewhere: Too much concentration without awareness-wisdom is dangerous.)

[Yogi’s note: If we’re not looking, how else can we know where to put our feet? If the body is not moving, how can we get from here to there?] 

YOGI ASKING HOW TO DEAL WITH UNPLEASANT FEELINGS

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 7 (1:21:54-1:23:28)

Just be aware and keep watching the unpleasant feelings. Stay with the emotion and continue knowing.

Yogi: But the feelings are very unpleasant.

Sayadaw: First, you need to have right attitude – that whatever is observed is Dhamma or nature and not personal. Pleasant or unpleasant, object is object. If you want it to be pleasant, that is the problem. If you want the unpleasant feeling to go away, that is also wrong attitude.

If you can watch calmly, then the mind already knows how to practice.

Yogis need to learn how to watch both unpleasant and pleasant feelings with equanimity.

KEEP NOTICING WRONG ATTITUDE; DON’T TRY TO CHANGE TO RIGHT ATTITUDE

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 7 (1:17:50-1:20:02)

Yogi: The mind notices wrong attitude; that’s why there is anxiety. What to do?

Sayadaw: There’s nothing to do. It is already very good because if you know what is wrong, wisdom is already present. Don’t try to change to right attitude; it is more important to understand what is wrong because if you notice what is wrong, the mind will not want to be wrong again.

The yogi thinks that he can only meditate when the mind calms down, but he’s already meditating when the mind notices the wrong attitude and anxiety. That’s why he knows what the mind is doing.

The yogi needs to understand the nature of awareness. Sometimes trying to be aware is not necessary because awareness is already present. Don’t try to be aware too much – if awareness is present, meditation is already happening.

Simply recognize the wrong attitude and continue to be aware.

ACKNOWLEDGING ANY MIND THAT ARISES

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 11 (6:50-10:20)

Yogi: Every time unpleasant experiences arise, I feel that they are incorrect in meditation. And the mind will say ‘Stop this and stop that’. There is a lot of self-judgment.

Sayadaw: Experiences are not the yogi’s responsibility – they have their own cause and effect processes. Experience does not indicate whether meditation is right or wrong. Whether meditation is right or wrong depends on the quality of the meditating mind. Is the meditating mind wholesome or unwholesome? Is the meditating mind liking or disliking the experience?

Experience is sometimes good and sometimes bad; we cannot have what we want. When the mind complains it is because it is not contented with oneself. It is also because the mind has made a habit of judging, time and time again; that’s why this cause and effect process comes. That is why you cannot stop the defilement from happening.

Don’t say “It’s okay” whenever the mind rejects the experience. Every time this mind arises, just be aware, aware, aware. Don’t let it continue to talk. Continue to be aware, aware, aware. When awareness comes, the defilements stop. And continue to watch, they get weaker and weaker. Next time they come, continue to be aware. Later they will have no chance to arise.

Defilements get to be so strong because of habit – come, come, come. You need to be aware and learn. Every time you are aware, slowly the mind understands something about this defilement nature. Because of understanding, the defilement gets weaker. Don’t try to say “It’s okay.”

RIGHT ATTITUDE GENTLY WATCHES THE COMPLETE PICTURE

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 1 (50:11-51:40)

Don’t jump in to watch the pain. Watch the pain slowly, slowly, because if you try to watch too hard the pain will increase.

Handling the pain is not important yet. It is more important to learn how to watch the mind because when the mind becomes relaxed and strong again, then you are ready to watch the pain.

So, when you watch pain, take care of your mind first – check if the mind is reacting or not. If the mind reacts, you shouldn’t watch the pain. You should watch the reaction instead.

If the pain increases, you should change your posture; if the pain decreases, you can go back to watching the pain.

(56:00-57:00)

Yogi: I notice the tension and the mind not resisting the tension. Also, there are 2 objects: one is the tension and the other is the mind that notices the tension.

Sayadaw: That’s very good. This is called the complete picture; the mind sees the whole picture.

CALMNESS ARISES NOT DEPENDING ON THE OBJECT, BUT ON THE ATTITUDE

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 10 (50:15-55:55)

Yogis think that the mind can only calm down if it observes only one object. But the more objects, the calmer the mind becomes. Why?

Calmness arises not depending on the object, but on the mind’s attitude.

The mind can be calm when we eat or do things fast. Even when we jog, if we are aware of our steps continuously, the mind will also calm down. The body can be running fast, but the mind is very calm.

Calmness comes from continuous awareness and right attitude, no matter how busy you are.

Swimmers are very aware of their body movement. The body is moving fast, but the mind is very calm and mindful, particularly in competition. That’s how they can pace themselves to set new records.

If the mind has no defilement, the mind is never tired – it becomes more and more relaxed, light and comfortable during practice. The mind is tired because of defilement.

WHEN YOGIS NOTICE THAT THE AWARENESS IS ALSO ‘ME’

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 12 (1:35:15-1:36:34)

Just recognize that the ‘I’ is still there. Later, when wisdom matures, the mind realizes that the idea of self is also not ‘me’.

Now, the idea of self is in the awareness. Now, you notice that the awareness still has the idea of self. Later, when the wisdom becomes more mature, you’ll notice that there is no self in the awareness. Much later.

Now, the mind says there is still ‘Me’, right? Later, later, when wisdom is stronger, it can see that there’s no ‘Me’. So, keep going.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE WAY – HOW TO PRACTICE

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 13 (31:00-32:05)

Don’t try to be aware of the calm mind; try to be aware of the awareness (just ask ‘Is the mind aware?’).

The yogi likes calmness, that’s why she is checking often; like checking her money if it’s still there. Worry and anxiety are already present.

The yogi’s duty is to recognize that the mind is calm if the mind is calm; recognize that the mind is not calm if it is not calm. That’s all.

Pay more attention to the way to practice – how to practice so as to result in the calmness.

If you know how to get it, there is no need to be attached to the calmness.

Calmness is not our goal, understanding is our goal.

ADVICE FOR QIGONG PRACTITIONERS AND THOSE SENSITIVE TO QI ENERGY

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 9 (1:00:42-1:01:08)

Don’t follow the energy during the sit because direction is a concept. 

[Yogi’s note: Stay with the awareness.]

The energy will go this way and that way; slowly, the body follows and starts to rotate.

[Yogi’s note: Sayadaw, however, also encourages qigong/yoga/aerobic exercise to develop a sense of whole-body awareness, just not follow the qi during the sit. (SUT Spirit Rock Retreat 2015 - Group A Session 1 Q&A (39:38-42:17)]

WHEN DEFILEMENTS ARE STRONG, BE AWARE OF FEELINGS OR BODY SENSATIONS

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 8 (1:11:33-1:12:35)

When the mind panics (or is overly anxious) and doesn’t know what to be aware of, come back to your body sensations and feelings. When defilements are strong, you should not be aware of your thoughts. You should be aware of feelings or body sensations; no story anymore.

If defilements are strong, feelings are strong too. It is easier to be aware of feelings then. At that time, you shouldn’t be aware of your thoughts. If you pay attention to thoughts, it is easy for the mind to be more lost in thoughts. So come back to your feelings or body sensations.

If you panic, you can be aware of the panic feeling – it is easier to know the panic then, ‘Oh, the mind is panicking, the mind is panicking.’ Just recognize that the mind is panicking, that’s all. And when the mind calms down, you can choose any object easily. When the mind panics, you don’t know how to choose, right? It’s better to be aware of the panic first.

AWARENESS THAT HAS BECOME A HABIT WILL ARISE AT THE TIME OF DEATH

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 13 (1:41:32-1:42:31)

If you continue to practice until you die, you don’t have to worry about going to a woeful state at the time of death because awareness will continue to do its job then.

Now you are training the mind to make awareness become a habit – every time defilement comes, the mind tries to be aware. Later, naturally, when defilement comes at the time of death, awareness also arises.

Don’t worry; just continue to practice.

If your awareness becomes automatic, becomes a habit, then you can be assured of a good rebirth because awareness will do its job at the time of death. (Q&A 14 (9:17-10:05)

SAYADAW’S APPROACH TO METTA PRACTICE

| Taiwan Retreat 2018 Q&A 8 (1:19:05-1:19:50)

If there is no anger, metta mind happens automatically. 

[Yogi’s note: you can actually try it out yourself.]

You are not trying to have metta, yet metta arises suddenly, right?

Earlier in the day, there was some anger in the mind. You were watching anger, anger, anger – and when the anger disappeared, suddenly the mind changed. Then, metta mind arose; when that happens, you used the metta mind as an object and continued to be aware.

The metta mind continued to happen because awareness, a wholesome mind, supports the metta mind.

Later, during lunch, when lobha and dosa arose, the metta mind disappeared.

So, if you’re watching anger – when anger disappears, metta automatically comes. 

[Yogi’s note: Instead of generating metta, try dissolving the anger.]