Q and A with Lay Disciples 2021
Answers by Ajahn Anan Akincano
Q: Can you please explain about letting go and using intention?
Yes, when anger arises one must use intention to cut it off and let it go. One also tries to avoid anger arising in the first place, another of the four right efforts. When it does arise, then one makes an effort to let it go.
The mind with sufficient strength and energy can know anger and other arammanas (objects of mind) as they arise. When the mind knows arammanas in time then the mind simply lets them pass away without clinging. A mind with stable and good samadhi, mindfulness, and wisdom, can know emotions and other mind objects as they arise and let them go.
Usually, in a given day our samadhi is only a little bit. Therefore, when aramannas arise the mind clings to them, and one subsequently must make an effort in order to let them go. Whether the mind is liking or disliking, one tries to cut liking and disliking off and let them go. One tries to develop one’s strength and energy of mind more and more. One tries to build one’s samadhi more and more. Then, when anger arises, one has the wisdom to know that one should let go and shouldn’t cling. Whether liking or disliking, the mind knows one shouldn’t cling and lets go right away.
But, in the beginning, one cannot do this. One can do lovingkindness practice, metta bhavana. In addition, one teaches one’s mind not to cling to moods, pleasures or pains. One reflects that all beings must die, so what is the point of getting angry or clinging to moods? This is walking the path of Dhamma. This is teaching our minds and hearts. Thereby one can increase in samadhi, and one can learn to let go a little bit, which takes time.
Luang Pu Chah’s teaching to let go right away is like a knife cutting through water, one just lets go immediately. But one’s strength of mind is not to that level yet. Therefore one uses contemplation. One contemplates to be able to let go and feel at ease.
In a given day, one should contemplate a lot in order to not cling to anger and aversion.
Letting go of happiness and sorrow immediately as you describe is correct – this is for a mind with quick wisdom. One knows mind objects in time and can have enough mindfulness and wisdom not to cling. This is a mind that is free and has right view. Letting go slowly means that one’s mindfulness, samadhi, and wisdom are too weak to let go right away. The knowing is not in time. Then the mind clings and dukkha, suffering, arises.
Given this, we build right view with mindfulness and samadhi to fight with the aramannas that enter the mind in order to let go quickly. Without samadhi, the aramannas enter the mind and one can’t let go; the mind clings right away. With samadhi and energy of mind, the mind can be separate from mind objects.
A: Those who travel to Nibbana must travel far. To go a long distance, one needs supplies. This generosity, goodness, and merit are important supplies for the journey. For if one runs out of supplies, such as food, then one will not have the strength to keep traveling on. This goodness and giving that you have done, from every previous time until this recent time, are supplies for the journey.
For you have faith, belief, and practice mental cultivation as well. Like Lady Visakha and Anathapindika, who also had faith in the Buddhasasana, a faith that is full in their hearts and minds. This merit and goodness is something that they had done previously in many lifetimes, which brought their minds into the current of goodness, where they reside all the time. Reaching this point, one feels full in one’s heart with the building of goodness.
Sila, virtue, is an important foundation in one’s practice. Practice sila with commitment and make it a foundation of your practice. This sila protects one and guards one against falling into the lower realms of hell, hungry ghosts, animals, or asuras. Sila as a stable foundation is a great and beautiful goodness in the heart.
To go far in the journey to Nibbana one needs supplies, as well as a vehicle and fuel. This sila is the vehicle. The benefit of sila is happiness and brings one to meet with noble wealth and the insight of wisdom. With this vehicle and with fuel then you can travel far and not meet with the difficulties of travel by foot. And with this vehicle complete and balanced and with supplies, you can be firm to reach your goal. This firmness is samadhi, which makes the vehicle balanced and strong.
May you have samadhi and panya, and with this samadhi firm to whatever level, then you can contemplate the Dhamma. See that everything arises and passes away, is not self, is vimutti, liberated, and free. See this at all times. See all sounds, smells, tastes, touches, sights, and mental objects as empty. See that all the proliferation around the 6 sense objects is on the outer level—the true mind on the inside stays complete and faultless while the outer 6 sense objects arise and pass away. So you just have to care for the mind with mindfulness and protect the mind from getting lost in proliferation. May you understand emptiness, understand that all arises and ceases, and, in this way, mindfulness, samadhi, and wisdom can bring your mind to purity bit by bit. Sila, samadhi, and panya purify the mind and bring the mind to brightness and joy. Then this brings the mind to purity to see the Dhamma.
So may you practice this kammathana of upasamanusati, the recollection of stillness/nibbana. This is the mind not involved with anything, which is Nibbana.
In order to get to Nibbana, one needs a foundation, which is this dana, giving, which you do regularly. I give a great anumodana with your recent offering of the four requisites to the Sangha and other generous acts, all of which has supreme benefits, and this is something you have done many times in the past up until the present.
These causes bring you to have firm faith in the Buddhasasana and to have dana, sila, and bhavana. These causes bring samadhi, as well, which leads to emptiness, to freedom, to seeing the Dhamma, and to destroying the fetters which bind the mind to suffering. These causes bring the mind to destroy the fetter of sakayaditthi, identity view, which takes things as ‘me’ and ‘mine’, ‘you’ and ‘yours’. With clear seeing, one sees there is really no self there. Dana, sila, and bhavana will all enter into your heart.
This reminds me of when I was a layperson, I had a mind that thought to make merit and goodness. Even if I had a little or a lot of money, I wanted to make merit with it. I reflected that there is nothing sure in life, so it is better to do merit. Before I ordained, I felt this way. You have not ordained as a monastic, but you have ordained in your heart already.
May the benefit of all this goodness be a cause for your mind to be firm and stable to see and know the Dhamma in this very life.
May you be strong, balanced, and have a fully healthy body. May you have the strength to practice the Dhamma. May you develop and cultivate your mind.
I feel rapture and happiness and am happy to help and teach the Dhamma to you, because my wish for you is that you may realize true purity in your heart in this life. May you be well.
A: This golden sky is very beautiful and lovely with an uplifting golden light.
We have the good fortune to be born as humans and to have the opportunity to build goodness and develop our minds to higher levels.
As we bring our attention to the sun, we then bring our attention, incline and pay homage to the boundless virtues of the Buddha, the boundless virtues of the Dhamma, and the boundless virtues of the Sangha.
When we incline and pay homage to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha in this way, we bring our minds to the Dhamma, which means we contemplate and see arising and passing away. We see the sun rise then gradually cross the sky and set. The days come and go, they are ever passing by—there is only arising, staying for a short time, then passing away.
So may you have effort to develop your minds, to reach the true Dhamma and be able to see the Dhamma.
A: These two trees can represent sati and sampajanya, mindfulness and clear comprehension. With sati and sampajanya one then recollects the body and sees all phenomena as empty.