Dhamma Video Conference Talk and Q & A with Ajahn Anan – May 18th, 2018
L uang Por Anan: Usually people think bad thoughts and also think a lot.
As a child I liked a movie about the Ramayana Hindu myth. The monkey in the movie, named Hanuman, was very honest with his owner and inspired much love and trust among the members of the family. Hanuman had a lot of love and trust and helped the family overcome obstacles.
This is similar to the Chinese story of a monkey in heaven who got sent down to earth to be trapped in a mountain due to the monkey’s selfish pride. This is like a wealthy person who is too proud and selfish. That person needs virtue and morality to be like their mountain prison in order for their mind to improve.
The characteristic of our mind, is that it thinks and proliferates constantly. It never stays still and stops. The reason we need to train our mind is so that it can stop and be still, or at least to have the thoughts lessen. We can compare our mind that doesn’t stop thinking to a monkey. This monkey is an animal that doesn’t stay still. Getting the monkey to stay still is very difficult, because it will always be moving, jumping and shifting constantly. So how do we make this monkey stay still?
So we use a meditation object in order to train the mind to be still. We use the meditation mantra, “Buddho” along with the in and out breath.
Usually this will be difficult to do, because mindfulness will not stay present, our mindfulness will not stay with Buddho. So before we start meditating on the breath and the word Buddho, we should chant internally a lot in the mind. We chant with mindfulness. For instance we chant the virtues of the Buddha beginning with ‘Itipiso’, say 9 times. If the mind isn’t peaceful yet we add another 9 repetitions. We keep adding repetitions until the mind feels tired, that it feels like it doesn’t want to chant any more or it feels like the chanting is not coming out – this is when the mind is starting to be tamed. The thoughts and proliferations are reduced. Here, we then establish our mindfulness on the breath – along with the meditation word Buddho, Bud with the in breath Bud and Dho with the out breath. This becomes easier to do.
If we are to make our body strong, then we need to move the body and exercise it. Then the body will be strong. To exercise the mind, we need the mind to have mindfulness with simply one mental object. And this mind that has stillness will develop into wisdom. It is the wisdom that knows and understands nature, that there is simply arising, staying and passing away. If we know and see clearly – this is called seeing the Dhamma. That is, we let go of this sense of having a ‘me’ and ‘mine.’
It is not that we can let go of everything, we just let go of our thoughts and views. Because we are born with these words, ‘me’ and ‘mine’, always. These words, ‘me’ and ‘mine’, is the cause for suffering to arise in the mind. The Buddha taught us the method to escape from suffering. It starts in the beginning that the Buddha advised us to first understand about giving, through seeing one’s selfishness.
When it is summer, the body feels very hot. We shower and drink cool water, and then we feel cool right in this present moment. The coolness doesn’t arise in the next life. When we make offerings, we give up a portion of our wealth and then the mind is at ease. We call this wealth we gain in this way Noble wealth of the highest type. It can’t be stolen, robbed, or taken from us. It is really ours. It is deep within our spiritual heart. When we make offerings consistently, this is called letting go of greed.
Or one other story that I want to share of the sticky rice that could lay eggs. In the Northeast of Thailand, usually the people would offer sticky rice to the monks. One day, an elderly but newly ordained monk gathered the sticky rice in his alms bowl. He hid an egg inside his sticky rice. The sticky rice he clumped around the egg. No one saw. But he himself saw, it wasn’t that no one saw. Luang Pu Tongrat, exclaimed that sticky rice can lay eggs. Let’s go see. He asked that elderly monk, how can sticky rice lay eggs? The other monks were curious. They had never seen sticky rice lay eggs. They went to the elderly monks bowl, and they couldn’t see any egg. Luang Pu Tongrat said to take apart the clump of sticky rice and look inside. It so happened that the egg was hidden inside the sticky rice. Since that day, that elderly monk so afraid of doing that again, that he wouldn’t even think to do that again. We could say that he saw the Dhamma instantly- he rid that greed from his mind that wanted to take advantage of the other monks. This is the story of a monk, that is, that sticky rice that can lay eggs.
When the mind has anger, then we must have mindfulness. When the mind has delusion, we must have mindfulness. We develop as much mindfulness as we can. How much ever mindfulness we have, the closer we get to the Buddha. We come close to the teachings of the Buddha. May you all be determined to practice Dhamma. May you all grow in Dhamma and blessings.
Questions and Answers:
Q: Does bad thinking get better as one progresses up levels of enlightenment?
Luang Por Anan: Yes. Bad thoughts become less and also one becomes more aware of thoughts in general.
Q: I have future thoughts and also feel sorrowful. How do I fix this?
Luang Por Anan: Think less and think good thoughts. We worry about the future then suffer in the present due to worrying about the future. If we did not worry we could be happy right now. The future is uncertain – there is no need to think too much about it. We could die at any time. One should contemplate death.
Q: Does one need mindful awareness before concentration? What about jhana (deep concentration)?
Luang Por Anan: Mindful awareness and concentration go together. They are like a knife on the ground – when you pick up the knife, you pick up both the handle and the blade. They come together. The blade is wisdom and the handle is virtue, mindfulness, and concentration.