Dhamma Video Conference Talk and Q & A with Ajahn Anan – June 29th, 2018
Note: One can listen to this talk here.
L uang Por Anan:
In the Satipatthana Sutta, whoever develops proficiency in the four foundations of mindfulness continually for 7 days, 7 months, or 7 years, will see the Dhamma. They will gain the noble paths and fruitions of the practice, culminating in the highest attainment, nibbana. Or those with a high level of spiritual potential, will see the Dhamma for sure. The seeing of the Dhamma is the seeing of this self. Seeing the true self. This word ‘self’, is this having a sense of self, of an “us” and a “them”. So what is this true self like? When we have the feeling that there is an “I” and a self, we have the view that there truly is a me and there truly is a self, then we haven’t seen the true self. We don’t yet know and haven’t yet seen the true self. We see in terms of a self with the delusion of the heart. Only when we see the self with knowing, or wisdom, then we will see in reality that there is no self.
In the Mangala sutta, one of the 38 highest blessings is to direct oneself on the right course. To direct one’s self first! When we have a self 100%, the Buddha teaches us to direct the self on the right course.
It’s like a tree, which has thick leaves, it is green and lush. This tree is compared to us knowing how to sacrifice and give and then our minds have more freshness. If the tree had no leaves or no greenness, it wouldn’t be worth looking at.
If sometimes the mind thinks to harm others, then what do we do? We need to use mindfulness to let go of those harmful thoughts. These thoughts of ill-will and seeking harm are normal for the mind that has the mental defilements taking over it.
There is hotness inside – anger arises, delusion arises, it burns the mind a lot. Here we need to have patient endurance. It is all self here. So, put forth effort.
We want the mind to be more cooler than this. When we love this self – we direct the self rightly. We have the goal for the heart to be cool.
Yet when there are thoughts that are painful, we understand this feeling well and know that it is suffering, that it’s hard to bear. Every person has these types of thoughts and feelings.
The Buddha taught Anya Kondanya – and Anya Kondanya saw the nature of reality – that it arises, stays and ceases as normal. If our mind has stillness arise, it is in the present.
We can see the present moment – seeing the arising staying and ceasing of all things. This may be the material objects in this world, of nature or that humans build. Take for example, this hall. It may have an 80 year lifespan. We may know this but we don’t see this clearly yet. Later we meditate and have the insight of wisdom, we have brightness arising in the heart, and we see this hall again, and can see that it is currently decaying.
It’s like we have an x-ray machine that sees things in detail. We use it to see into the poles of the hall – we see the elements that have gathered together and are currently decaying. If there was a camera that is this detailed, we would then see, “oh, it’s currently disintegrating.” The hall is currently collapsing in every moment. Maybe in the future humans may be able to make something like this. I think there is an x-ray machine that can be used for structural work. If we see with the insight of wisdom, we will see it like that. When we see it like that, we see into impermanence. We used to have really strong attachment to the body as a self because of our wrong view. The mind develops a new view with wisdom, that it isn’t our body. The one that sees with wisdom that all conditioned things are impermanent. They become weary with the things that one loves or that one is deluded in. They accept and see the path to nibbana. It is the Dhamma that is flawless. The dhamma that has peace, the dhamma that has happiness.
So why don’t we see it? It’s because the mind is deluded. We can compare this to a crazy person. We say that that person is crazy because they don’t live in the world with ordinary people. But here the highest type of individual, the fully-enlightened arahant, they aren’t like ordinary people either. We could see them as being crazy people as well. Why is that? Because they are above the world. They are outside of causes and above results, outside of happiness and above suffering, outside of birth and above death. Their minds are above it all. But the people in the world are still crazy. Crazy with wrong view – seeing things that aren’t a self, thinking it is ours and our self.
Like we see a crazy person, they are crazy over this or that thing, because they go attaching to this and that. Some may dress up as a soldier and think they are in a time of world war and there are enemies coming for them. They live in the world of the past. We say they are crazy. They can’t undertake work or study in a normal manner.
In the beginning we have a self. Then we direct our self rightly. Then later we get to the point where we let go of this sense of self. This letting go is supported by our generosity, virtue, and meditation. It is the path our heart walks until wisdom arises. The luminous mind arises. Seeing impermanence like this is called having seen the Dhamma. Seeing the true self – that there is no such thing as a self.
All of us Buddhists, whether close or far away, we should practice in this way, then wherever we are we will see the Dhamma. And we will all see the inner Buddha. May you all grow in Dhamma and in blessings.
Questions and Answers:
Luang Por Anan: In the time of the Buddha many people believed that there was a self that lasted forever. Another group of people believed that there was no self at all. The Buddha taught a middle way that does not cling to either view: the body and mind are not a self. This is not the same as the view of no self existing.
Q: I’ve heard the teaching to repeat “Buddho”, but others say to focus on emotions that arise in the mind and pay attention to them. What is the correct way?
Luang Por Anan: If mindfulness is strong enough then you can look at moods. Otherwise do “Buddho” to strengthen the mind and make it peaceful.
Q: How does one get rid of the view of self with wisdom?
Luang Por Anan: The view of mind and body as one’s self is strong. Practice virtue, concentration, and wisdom, then see the body and mind as always changing and empty. See this again and again until the seeing is deep enough to be liberating.
Q: What is the empty mind?
Luang Por Anan: When wisdom has enough power, it cuts off defilements. Then wrong view turns into right view and the mind feels full.
Q: Please talk about desires or emotions that can arise in practice.
Luang Por Anan: If we are in a dark place we might feel fear because we think and imagine scary things. Train to observe fear, endure the fear, and know the fear for what it is. You can also reflect on death to help with fear.
Develop mindfulness and wisdom and know everything as uncertain and unstable.
Like the monk who went to stay at a village with just pumpkin. He said he liked pumpkin. After about a month of just pumpkin he ran away because he couldn’t stand it anymore. Liking is uncertain.
Once Luang Pu Mun went to a cave. The villagers said ‘Do not go there. 4 other monks have died there. Others were disturbed and left.’
Luang Pu Mun went anyway. After 3 or 4 days he had diarrhea and passed blood. He meditated, contemplated his body, and made his mind very bright. Then he saw a blackish being 10m high with a 2m club. It said ‘Go away or I’ll kill you’. Luang Pu Mun said ‘I’m here to practice meditation. Why hurt me?’ The creature said ‘I’m overlord here. I scare people away.’ Luang Pu Mun: ‘You can control others, but can you control your own mind?’ Then the being, a yakkha, said ‘I didn’t really mean to hurt you, just scare you. I saw the brightness of your mind and that made me come up to talk.’
Another story is Luang Pu Wang, whom Luang Pu Chah had once met. Luang Pu Wang would disappear for 15 days at a time in a cave. It is said there was a heavenly world in that cave, a deva world, that supported him there.
Q: My hands and feet feel like they start to disappear when I meditate. Any advice?
Luang Por Anan: This is a sign that the mind is becoming peaceful. Keep going. The rest of the body may feel like it disappears as well.