Opening the Dhamma Eye (2)
A Dhammatalk by Ajahn Chah
The mind of one who practises is the same; it doesn't run away anywhere, it stays right there. Good, evil, happiness and unhappiness, right and wrong arise, and he knows them all. The meditator simply knows them, they don't enter his mind. That is, he has no clinging. He is simply the experiencer. To say he simply experiences is our common language. In the language of Dhamma we say he lets his mind follow the Middle Way.
These activities of happiness, unhappiness and so on are constantly arising because they are characteristics of the world. The Buddha was enlightened in the world, he contemplated the world. If he hadn't contemplated the world, if he hadn't seen the world, he couldn't have risen above it. The Buddha's Enlightenment was simply enlightenment of this very world. The world was still there: gain and loss, praise and criticism, fame and disrepute, happiness and unhappiness were all still there. If there weren't these things there would be nothing to become enlightened to! What he knew was just the world, that which surrounds the hearts of people. If people follow these things, seeking praise and fame, gain and happiness, and trying to avoid their opposites, they sink under the weight of the world.
Gain and loss, praise and criticism, fame and disrepute, happiness and unhappiness - this is the world. The person who is lost in the world has no path of escape, the world overwhelms him. This world follows the Law of Dhamma so we call it worldly dhamma. He who lives within the worldly dhamma is called a worldly being. He lives surrounded by confusion.
Therefore the Buddha taught us to develop the path. We can divide it up into morality, concentration and wisdom-develop them to completion. This is the path of practice which destroys the world. Where is this world? It is just in the minds of beings infatuated with it! The action of clinging to praise, gain, fame, happiness and unhappiness is called 'world'. When these things are there in the mind, then the world arises, the worldly being is born. The world is born because of desire. Desire is the birthplace of all worlds. To put an end to desire is to put an end to the world.
Our practice of morality, concentration and wisdom is otherwise called the eightfold path. This eightfold path and the eight worldly dhammas are a pair. How is it that they are a pair? If we speak according to the scriptures, we say that gain and loss, praise and criticism, fame and disrepute, happiness and unhappiness are the eight worldly dhammas. Right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration: this is the eightfold path. These two eightfold ways exist in the same place. The eight worldly dhammas are right here in this very mind, with the 'one who knows'; but this 'one who knows' has obstructions, so it knows wrongly and thus becomes the world. It's just this one 'one who knows', no other. The Buddha-nature has not yet arisen in this mind, it has not yet extracted itself from the world. The mind like this is the world.
When we practise the path, when we train our body and speech, it's all done in that very same mind. It's in the same place so they see each other; the path sees the world. If we practise with this mind of ours we encounter this clinging to praise, fame, pleasure and happiness, we see the attachment to the world.
The Buddha said, ''You should know the world. It dazzles like a king's royal carriage. Fools are entranced, but the wise are not deceived.'' It's not that he wanted us to go all over the world looking at everything, studying everything about it. He simply wanted us to watch this mind which attaches to the world. When the Buddha told us to look at the world he didn't want us to get stuck in it, he wanted us to investigate it, because the world is born just in this mind. Sitting in the shade of a tree you can look at the world. When there is desire the world comes into being right there. Wanting is the birth place of the world. To extinguish wanting is to extinguish the world.
When we sit in meditation we want the mind to become peaceful, but it's not peaceful. Why is this? We don't want to think but we think. It's like a person who goes to sit on an ants' nest: the ants just keep on biting him. When the mind is the world then even sitting still with our eyes closed, all we see is the world. Pleasure, sorrow, anxiety, confusion - it all arises. Why is this? It's because we still haven't realized Dhamma. If the mind is like this the meditator can't endure the worldly dhammas, he doesn't investigate. It's just the same as if he were sitting on an ants' nest. The ants are going to bite because he's right on their home! So what should he do? He should look for some poison or use fire to drive them out.
But most Dhamma practitioners don't see it like that. If they feel content they just follow contentment, feeling discontent they just follow that. Following the worldly dhammas the mind becomes the world. Sometimes we may think, ''Oh, I can't do it, it's beyond me,''... so we don't even try. This is because the mind is full of defilements, the worldly dhammas prevent the path from arising. We can't endure in the development of morality, concentration and wisdom. It's just like that man sitting on the ants' nest. He can't do anything, the ants are biting and crawling all over him, he's immersed in confusion and agitation. He can't rid his sitting place of the danger, so he just sits there, suffering.
So it is with our practice. The worldly dhammas exist in the minds of worldly beings. When those beings wish to find peace the worldly dhammas arise right there. When the mind is ignorant there is only darkness. When knowledge arises the mind is illumined, because ignorance and knowledge are born in the same place. When ignorance has arisen, knowledge can't enter, because the mind has accepted ignorance. When knowledge has arisen, ignorance cannot stay.
So the Buddha exhorted his disciples to practise with the mind, because the world is born in this mind, the eight worldly dhammas are there. The eightfold path, that is, investigation through calm and insight meditation, our diligent effort and the wisdom we develop, all these things loosen the grip of the world. Attachment, aversion and delusion become lighter, and being lighter, we know them as such. If we experience fame, material gain, praise, happiness or suffering we're aware of it. We must know these things before we can transcend the world, because the world is within us.
When we're free of these things it's just like leaving a house. When we enter a house what sort of feeling do we have? We feel that we've come through the door and entered the house. When we leave the house we feel that we've left it, we come into the bright sunlight, it's not dark like it was inside. The action of the mind entering the worldly dhammas is like entering the house. The mind which has destroyed the worldly dhammas is like one who has left the house.
So the Dhamma practitioner must become one who witnesses the Dhamma for himself. He knows for himself whether the worldly dhammas have left or not, whether or not the path has been developed. When the path has been well developed it purges the worldly dhammas. It becomes stronger and stronger. Right view grows as wrong view decreases, until finally the path destroys defilements - either that or defilements will destroy the path!
Right view and wrong view, there are only these two ways. Wrong view has its tricks as well, you know, it has its wisdom - but it's wisdom that's misguided. The meditator who begins to develop the path experiences a separation. Eventually it's as if he is two people: one in the world and the other on the path. They divide, they pull apart. Whenever he's investigating there's this separation, and it continues on and on until the mind reaches insight, vipassanā.
Or maybe it's vipassanū! Having tried to establish wholesome results in our practice, seeing them, we attach to them. This type of clinging comes from our wanting to get something from the practice. This is vipassanū, the wisdom of defilements (i.e. ''defiled wisdom''). Some people develop goodness and cling to it, they develop purity and cling to that, or they develop knowledge and cling to that. The action of clinging to that goodness or knowledge is vipassanū, infiltrating our practice.
So when you develop vipassanā, be careful! Watch out for vipassanū, because they're so close that sometimes you can't tell them apart. But with right view we can see them both clearly. If it's vipassanū there will be suffering arising at times as a result. If it's really vipassanā there's no suffering. There is peace. Both happiness and unhappiness are silenced. This you can see for yourself.
This practice requires endurance. Some people, when they come to practise, don't want to be bothered by anything, they don't want friction. But there's friction the same as before. We must try to find an end to friction through friction itself.
So, if there's friction in your practice, then it's right. If there's no friction it's not right, you just eat and sleep as much as you want. When you want to go anywhere or say anything, you just follow your desires. The teaching of the Buddha grates. The supermundane goes against the worldly. Right view opposes wrong view, purity opposes impurity. The teaching grates against our desires.
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