When there is mental suffering, the mind will do its own thinking but we don’t contribute actively to thinking about the mental suffering – like to try to analyze it, or comfort it, or relieve it – and our energy is used to just be aware.
In that sort of state, your refuge is observation (stop thinking; just be aware) because the mind is already in a downward spiral; anything that the mind thinks, it’s going to be wrong for the mind.
At that time, what you do is just observe. Stop thinking about it; rather, how does the body and mind feel? It feels not good; it’s not comfortable. Keep watching all that as long as you can.
What you’re experiencing is doubt – it’s just a defilement, a hindrance. The way to deal with it is to observe it. You make the hindrance the object, and it becomes part of the practice. And you have to observe it until it’s not there. It’s an object that is very available; and until it clears, don’t think about it.
Don’t decide anything about your practice; don’t make conclusions or judgments because the mind isn’t thinking in the right way. Put it aside and stay with the simple feeling.
Use it as an object – see what it feels like and the effects it has on you. You can also go back and forth to the body too.
At that time, make the mechanical type of awareness where you keep making sure that you’re applying awareness your goal.
You can also try looking at doubt directly; and sometimes the mind finds its way and it can watch it, and then doubt disappears. And when you’re struggling with that, go back to the body and feelings which are more immediate and more available.
With the fear in mind, it’s impossible to just theoretically say these things to ourselves. It’s better to just look at the fear – to observe the fear and understand how it works.
When the mind is able to do that, maybe it understands more and it feels more settled, because of that, then the mind can think in a more rational way that suits the circumstances that you’re in.
The presence of fear makes it difficult for the mind to accept platitudes.
So, don’t try to say something; just observe the feeling.
As far as possible, this is the opportunity to observe the workings of fear (it is going to be very obvious) and as much as you can muster, have an interest to seeing it as objectively as you can.
A yogi when he saw the Buddha statue, he heard his thoughts say: ‘Throw away the Buddha image!’ He was shocked. Thereafter, he never went to the monastery again.
When he talked to me, I said: ‘This is nature.’ When unwholesome mind is present, every thought is negative. That is nature.
So, you need to grow yourself – if you can build up your wholesome mind, then everything becomes positive.
The monastery is not the problem; the Buddha statue is not the problem. The Buddha is not angry at you!
If I don’t explain the nature of the mind, yogis can stop doing good things. I need to give them the right information.
This is the nature of the mind. When the mind quality is not good, when you are suffering, you cannot think good things; also cannot talk nicely, right? This is a process; there is nobody there.
If you can understand the nature of the mind, you can easily forgive other people. If he is angry, he’ll talk bad things; this is nature.
You don’t have to recall the dream to address it. In the moment you’re feeling shaken you just need to watch the feeling of being shaken.
The concepts that bring on our emotions are not important. We never need to bring up the concepts to address the issue. We just have to address the reality that is happening at the present moment, which are our emotions, our feelings, our reactions; that’s what we need to address. So, we need to watch those.
In dreams and thoughts, the story is never the object of meditation. It’s the reality of the experience of thoughts [yogi’s note: dreams are just thoughts while we’re sleeping], that they arise; and if there are emotions and feelings, we watch them.
If you find that feeling difficult, remind yourself that a feeling is just a feeling; a state of mind is just a state of mind [yogi’s note: and that they are happening now].
A thought is just a thought; and when the thought is over, the thought itself is over, the effect is left behind. We deal with the effect, but we don’t have to go into what the thought is about.
Start from right view. Try to think that whatever happens is nature and try to be mindful of something.
If your mind is involved with thinking, then the depression gets worse and worse. Try to be aware of some neutral object and have right attitude. Slowly, you can calm down and be more awake.
Sometimes, you cannot only be mindful and mindful. Because of wrong view, when you watch your mind, you can become more depressed.
If they only meditate, they cannot overcome it. If they don’t understand right view, then problem comes because if they watch themselves, they have more suffering and they are finished.
You don’t need to get out of the craving; you need to recognize and watch it.
If you can detect the idea, look at the idea and notice how it makes the mind feel.
The way we ask questions, we say: I don’t know how to get out of it; what should I do?
Our question should be: Do I know it? Usually, the answer is: Yes. If I know it, then I should continue to be aware of it, right? Am I aware of it with right view? Remember the 3 yogi jobs.
The learning will come with time – it’s not that you’re going to watch it now and learn immediately. So, you need to allow yourself to be with it – recognize it, recognize its signs, recognize what it does, that’s the learning that’s going to happen. Eventually, when the mind realizes that this is really not helpful, then it will learn.
We all have this – we all think that when we know something, that we should be learning something immediately and it is going to go away, right? But, the first step is just to know, the recognition that there is awareness of it.
The noticing is good – continue to observe it, to learn about it as in to know what is happening to it, not how to get rid of it, or how to deal with it. Know what is happening to it.
The mind has this tendency – it observes a few things and then it wants to make a conclusion to feel like it has learned something.
That shuts down the mind’s ability to see more; so, we need to notice that the mind is making its conclusion and step away from that so that it continues to observe. And it might make another conclusion, and we need to step away from that and again continue to observe.
This helps the mind to keep its doors open.
Don’t expect anything – motivation is important. Even if you want to understand – that can be a problem too.
Just watch the mind, that’s enough.
When your mind calms down, just continue to maintain the awareness and peacefulness; don’t expect wisdom to arise. Just maintain this first, and collect information – peaceful, information, peaceful, information. That’s enough.
When nature matures, understanding comes by itself. You need to be very patient. Nature takes time; nature cannot hurry. [Yogi’s note: Understanding takes time; understanding cannot hurry.]
I know that people have their life problems; they want to meditate to solve their problems. That’s also a kind of wrong attitude. If you meditate and you get the result, after getting the result then you can deal with your difficulties.
What makes you recognize that you’re watching greed?
Most of the time, it’s because of what we’re thinking or feeling in the moment, right? And we’ve called it greed. We recognize that there are signs of greed in the thinking and feeling.
But the thought is not greed, right? Thinking is just thinking. And the feeling is not greed either; the feeling reflects greed, but the feeling is not greed. Feeling is just feeling, right?
So, what is greed?
It is through this sort of process that we can get in touch with the nature of greed because we call it greed but we’re watching our thought or our feeling, and then there is some quality that we recognize that is behind it, which is not the thinking or the feeling. Can we get in touch with that quality?
So, our thoughts and our feelings are like the gateway for us to access greed or aversion or delusion. So, we need to use thinking mind; we need to observe thinking mind so that we know what is the quality that is emanating from it – that it is hiding or displaying.
From watching what the mind thinks, we start to understand that our thoughts create in our mind emotions and stories for ourselves; and we begin to understand the nature of wholesome thoughts and unwholesome thoughts, the nature of thoughts themselves.
When we meditate and are aware, and we notice the mind thinking, we’re so disinterested in our thoughts. We want them to go away; but actually the thoughts hold so much information, they reveal so much to us about the nature of mind.
Thinking is not a problem. But if there are defilements pushing and feeding the thoughts, then we need to understand the relationship of how when there are defilements present feeding the thoughts, how they exaggerate things in our thoughts, how they make things seem real in our thoughts, how they make us belief, how they convince us to believe something that is not true. The defilements have all these characteristics and if we would see them, we wouldn’t be tricked.
We won’t always see all the detailed workings of the mind. But just noticing thoughts as they keep passing through our mind, is interesting in itself because that is the function of the mind.
Thinking is a function of the mind. Feeling is another function of the mind. And if we notice all of these at work, it’s interesting because we’re actually seeing how the mind does its work.
When there’s thinking, who is thinking? What kind of thought is it? Did I actively think that thought; am I the thought?
Just from observing thoughts without any idea that you’re going to watch for this or that, just giving them the time for you to notice what is happening, you can begin to understand that thought is its own cause and effect process, not your doing.
Right now, we’re very much identified with our thoughts – we think ‘I’m thinking; I’m feeling’. We think that our thoughts define us, but if we observe long enough, we can pull apart these things.
Sometimes we need to think about something – after we think, we think ‘I’m thinking because I want to’, but actually, the wanting mind wants to think, so that’s an intention to think and that’s what makes the mind think. So, there’s a process of different functions of mind working to make other things happen in the mind. But we identify with every step of the process, thinking ‘I’m somewhere there’.
This is the nature of that type of mind. It’s not that the whole mind is like that, but if the worry mind is there, the mind will worry about whatever. The stories will be worry, worry, and worry.
If the fear mind is there, then the mind will be afraid of this, this, and this. Everything that comes, the mind will have something to fear.
It’s the nature of that type of mind. So, when worry mind is there, it will worry; if fear mind is there, it will be afraid. If happy mind is there, it will be happy; if sad mind is there, it will be sad.
It’s like at night, usually the mind is already scared of the dark. So, when anything happens, we don’t really know what happens, we will think that it’s a ghost.
Yogi: In certain days, the mind is totally drowned in thoughts, as if it’s the first day of retreat
Sayadaw: When the mind has conditions that settle the mind, the mind will remain settled. When the mind has conditions that unsettle the mind, the mind will start getting unsettled.
Whatever happens in the mind, there are some conditions present that have brought this effect.
It doesn’t happen out of the blue; it’s something that has to do with what has been happening in the mind in the days preceding that. You don’t notice what the mind has been thinking.
Thinking is on so many levels; we have our very gross chattering minds, we have thoughts that we think deliberately, thoughts that we think subconsciously, and then there are the monologues and dialogues in our heads that are just doing their own thing, figuring our lives for us; but that’s the thinking mind too.
It is so important to recognize the monologuing and dialoguing that sort of go unnoticed most of the time because that’s helping us live our lives, right? Those are our beliefs and value system almost. And it’s important to recognize those because otherwise they are just running our lives and we don’t realize whether they are skillful or not.
When mindfulness uses wisdom to try and be mindful, it’s not only trying to do mindfulness anymore; it’s actually checking – checking how mindfulness is working and if it is working. It’s not so much the doing effort, but the following up – checking for the weaknesses, the cracks in the process and filling those.
Checking is more meaningful because there is more intelligence, wisdom being used.
When you’re checking, you not only see more detail, you also discover more because you’re checking what you might have missed. You notice other things.
Checking is similar to investigating. Also it is not looking for something, it’s checking for what’s happening right now. It’s a kind of awareness.
I like checking. And sometimes it’s not only checking, but double checking.