Monday, October 31, 2011

There's Only Gain, Never Loss

ByBuddhadasa Bhikkhu


There's Only Gain, Never Loss

Look well, there's only profit and never loss.
When losing a child or a spouse, one still receives
life's genuine knowledge that depends on no-one
how everything proceeds according to its evil and good.


This kind of knowledge brightens the heart,
seeing the way to Nibbana, the only true support.
Plunging forward to reach the goal of our lives,
don't get all bothered and make yourself suffer!


One ought to know only profit and never loss,
but end up losing because of misguided thinking.
Ponder carefully, there's only gain and no anxiety,
being "Truly Buddhist" at the pinnacle of Dhamma.


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The Highest Life

The Highest Life

by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu


Any physical action, spoken word, or thought
ought to be done with a crystal clear mind
that doesn't regard anything as "this" or "that"
no longer made nasty and dangerous by clinging. 


Whichever "Me" or "Mine" arises, can't you see
they're just the concoctions of sankhara?
Claiming things to be "Self" is criminal, in other words,
a clever, shameless, con-job to defraud Nature. 



Whoever stubbornly insists on such a life
falls into a daylong hell of thick, foul smoke,
with putrid fumes even more extreme at night,
till cremation ends him having never known any coolness. 


Think - speak - act with a clarified heart
Made bright, pure, calm, and smart through discovering 
that anything can be conquered through Dhamma.
Oh, human friends, this sort of life is the highest. 


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The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditatio

Mr. S.N. Goenka

Mr. Goenka is a householder teacher of Vipassana meditation in the tradition of the late Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma (Myanmar). 

       A talk given byEveryone seeks peace and harmony, because this is what we lack in our lives. From time to time we all experience agitation, irritation, dishar­mony. And when we suffer from these miseries, we don't keep them to ourselves; we often distribute them to others as well. Unhappiness permeates the atmosphere around someone who is miserable, and those who come in contact with such a person also become affected. Certainly this is not a skillful way to live. 
        We ought to live at peace with ourselves, and at peace with others. After all, human beings are social beings, having to live in society and deal with each other. But how are we to live peacefully? How are we to remain harmonious within, and maintain peace and harmony around us, so that others can also live peacefully and harmoniously?
       In order to be relieved of our misery, we have to know the basic reason for it, the cause of the suffering. If we investigate the problem, it becomes clear that whenever we start generating any negativity or impurity in the mind, we are bound to become unhappy. A negativity in the mind, a mental defilement or impurity, cannot coexist with peace and harmony. 

        How do we start generating negativity? Again, by investigation, it becomes clear. We become unhappy when we find someone behaving in a way that we don't like, or when we find something happening which we don't like. Unwanted things happen and we create tension within. Wanted things do not happen, some obstacle comes in the way, and again we create tension within; we start tying knots within. And throughout life, unwanted things keep on happening, wanted things may or may not happen, and this process of reaction, of tying knots—Gordian knots—makes the entire mental and physical structure so tense, so full of negativity, that life becomes miserable. 

        Now, one way to solve this problem is to arrange that nothing unwanted happens in life, that everything keeps on happening exactly as we desire. Either we must develop the power, or somebody else who will come to our aid must have the power, to see that unwanted things do not happen and that everything we want happens. But this is impossible. There is no one in the world whose desires are always fulfilled, in whose life everything happens according to his or her wishes, without anything unwanted happening. Things constantly occur that are contrary to our desires and wishes. So the question arises: how can we stop reacting blindly when confronted with things that we don't like? How can we stop creating tension and remain peaceful and harmonious? 

        In India, as well as in other countries, wise saintly persons of the past studied this problem—the problem of human suffering—and found a solution: if something unwanted happens and you start to react by generating anger, fear or any negativity, then, as soon as possible, you should divert your attention to something else. For example, get up, take a glass of water, start drinking—your anger won't multiply; on the other hand, it'll begin to subside. Or start counting: one, two, three, four. Or start repeating a word, or a phrase, or some mantra, perhaps the name of a god or saintly person towards whom you have devotion; the mind is diverted, and to some extent you'll be free of the negativity, free of the anger. 

        This solution was helpful; it worked. It still works. Responding like this, the mind feels free from agitation. However, the solution works only at the conscious level. In fact, by diverting the attention you push the negativity deep into the unconscious, and there you continue to generate and multiply the same defilement. On the surface there is a layer of peace and harmony, but in the depths of the mind there is a sleeping volcano of suppressed negativity which sooner or later may erupt in a violent explosion. 

        Other explorers of inner truth went still further in their search and, by experiencing the reality of mind and matter within themselves, recognized that diverting the attention is only running away from the problem. Escape is no solution; you have to face the problem. Whenever negativity arises in the mind, just observe it, face it. As soon as you start to observe a mental impurity, it begins to lose its strength and slowly withers away.
A good solution; it avoids both extremes—suppression and expression. Burying the negativity in the unconscious will not eradicate it, and allowing it to manifest as unwholesome physical or vocal actions will only create more problems. But if you just observe, then the defilement passes away and you are free of it. 

        This sounds wonderful, but is it really practical? It's not easy to face one's own impurities. When anger arises, it so quickly overwhelms us that we don't even notice. Then, overpowered by anger, we perform physical or vocal actions which harm ourselves and others. Later, when the anger has passed, we start crying and repenting, begging pardon from this or that person or from God: “Oh, I made a mistake, please excuse me!” But the next time we are in a similar situation, we again react in the same way. This continual repenting doesn't help at all. 

        The difficulty is that we are not aware when negativity starts. It begins deep in the unconscious mind, and by the time it reaches the conscious level it has gained so much strength that it overwhelms us, and we cannot observe it. 

        Suppose that I employ a private secretary, so that whenever anger arises he says to me, “Look, anger is starting!” Since I cannot know when this anger will start, I'll need to hire three private secretaries for three shifts, around the clock! Let's say I can afford it, and anger begins to arise. At once my secretary tells me, “Oh look—anger has started!” The first thing I'll do is rebuke him: “You fool! You think you're paid to teach me?” I'm so overpowered by anger that good advice won't help. 

        Suppose wisdom does prevail and I don't scold him. Instead, I say, “Thank you very much. Now I must sit down and observe my anger.” Yet, is it possible? As soon as I close my eyes and try to observe anger, the object of the anger immediately comes into my mind—the person or incident which initiated the anger. Then I'm not observing the anger itself; I'm merely observing the external stimulus of that emotion. This will only serve to multiply the anger, and is therefore no solution. It is very difficult to observe any abstract negativity, abstract emotion, divorced from the external object which originally caused it to arise. 

        However, someone who reached the ultimate truth found a real solution. He discovered that whenever any impurity arises in the mind, physically two things start happening simultaneously. One is that the breath loses its normal rhythm. We start breathing harder whenever negativity comes into the mind. This is easy to observe. At a subtler level, a biochemical reaction starts in the body, resulting in some sensation. Every impurity will generate some sensation or the other within the body. 

        This presents a practical solution. An ordinary person cannot observe abstract defilements of the mind—abstract fear, anger or passion. But with proper training and practice it is very easy to observe respiration and body sensations, both of which are directly related to mental defilements. 

        Respiration and sensations will help in two ways. First, they will be like private secretaries. As soon as a negativity arises in the mind, the breath will lose its normality; it will start shouting, “Look, something has gone wrong!” And we cannot scold the breath; we have to accept the warning. Similarly, the sensations will tell us that something has gone wrong. Then, having been warned, we can start observing the respiration, start observing the sensations, and very quickly we find that the negativity passes away. 

        This mental-physical phenomenon is like a coin with two sides. On one side are the thoughts and emotions arising in the mind, on the other side are the respiration and sensations in the body. Any thoughts or emotions, any mental impurities that arise manifest themselves in the breath and the sensations of that moment. Thus, by observing the respiration or the sensations, we are in fact observing mental impurities. Instead of running away from the problem, we are facing reality as it is. As a result, we discover that these impurities lose their strength; they no longer overpower us as they did in the past. If we persist, they eventually disappear altogether and we begin to live a peaceful and happy life, a life increasingly free of negativities. 

        In this way the technique of self-observation shows us reality in its two aspects, inner and outer. Previously we only looked outward, missing the inner truth. We always looked outside for the cause of our unhappiness; we always blamed and tried to change the reality outside. Being ignorant of the inner reality, we never understood that the cause of suffering lies within, in our own blind reactions toward pleasant and unpleasant sensations.
Now, with training, we can see the other side of the coin. We can be aware of our breathing and also of what is happening inside. Whatever it is, breath or sensation, we learn just to observe it without losing our mental balance. We stop reacting and multiplying our misery. Instead, we allow the defilements to manifest and pass away. 

        The more one practices this technique, the more quickly negativities will dissolve. Gradually the mind becomes free of defilements, becomes pure. A pure mind is always full of love—selfless love for all others, full of compassion for the failings and sufferings of others, full of joy at their success and happiness, full of equanimity in the face of any situation. 

        When one reaches this stage, the entire pattern of one's life changes. It is no longer possible to do anything vocally or physically which will disturb the peace and happiness of others. Instead, a balanced mind not only becomes peaceful, but the surrounding atmosphere also becomes permeated with peace and harmony, and this will start affecting others, helping others too. 

        By learning to remain balanced in the face of everything experienced inside, one develops detachment towards all that one encounters in external situations as well. However, this detachment is not escapism or indifference to the problems of the world. Those who regularly practice Vipassana become more sensitive to the sufferings of others, and do their utmost to relieve suffering in whatever way they can—not with any agitation, but with a mind full of love, compassion and equanimity. They learn holy indifference—how to be fully committed, fully involved in helping others, while at the same time maintaining balance of mind. In this way they remain peaceful and happy, while working for the peace and happiness of others. 

         This is what the Buddha taught: an art of living. He never established or taught any religion, any “ism”. He never instructed those who came to him to practice any rites or rituals, any empty formalities. Instead, he taught them just to observe nature as it is, by observing the reality inside. Out of ignorance we keep reacting in ways which harm ourselves and others. But when wisdom arises—the wisdom of observing reality as it is—this habit of reacting falls away. When we cease to react blindly, then we are capable of real action—action proceeding from a balanced mind, a mind which sees and understands the truth. Such action can only be positive, creative, helpful to ourselves and to others. 

        What is necessary, then, is to “know thyself”—advice which every wise person has given. We must know ourselves, not just intellectually in the realm of ideas and theories, and not just emotionally or devotionally, simply accepting blindly what we have heard or read. Such knowledge is not enough. Rather, we must know reality experientially. We must experience directly the reality of this mental-physical phenomenon. This alone is what will help us be free of our suffering. 

        This direct experience of our own inner reality, this technique of self-observation, is what is called Vipassana meditation. In the language of India in the time of the Buddha, passana meant seeing in the ordinary way, with one's eyes open; but vipassana is observing things as they actually are, not just as they appear to be. Apparent truth has to be penetrated, until we reach the ultimate truth of the entire psycho-physical structure. When we experience this truth, then we learn to stop reacting blindly, to stop creating negativities—and naturally the old ones are gradually eradicated. We become liberated from misery and experience true happiness. 

        There are three steps to the training given in a meditation course. First, one must abstain from any action, physical or vocal, which disturbs the peace and harmony of others. One cannot work to liberate oneself from impurities of the mind while at the same time continuing to perform deeds of body and speech which only multiply them. Therefore, a code of morality is the essential first step of the practice. One undertakes not to kill, not to steal, not to commit sexual misconduct, not to tell lies, and not to use intoxicants. By abstaining from such actions, one allows the mind to quiet down sufficiently in order to proceed further. 

        The next step is to develop some mastery over this wild mind by training it to remain fixed on a single object, the breath. One tries to keep one's attention on the respiration for as long as possible. This is not a breathing exercise; one does not regulate the breath. Instead, one observes natural respiration as it is, as it comes in, as it goes out. In this way one further calms the mind so that it is no longer overpowered by intense negativities. At the same time, one is concentrating the mind, making it sharp and penetrating, capable of the work of insight. 

        These first two steps, living a moral life, and controlling the mind, are very necessary and beneficial in themselves, but they will lead to suppression of negativities unless one takes the third step: purifying the mind of defilements by developing insight into one's own nature. This is Vipassana: experiencing one's own reality by the systematic and dispassionate observation within oneself of the ever-changing mind-matter phenomenon manifesting itself as sensations. This is the culmination of the teaching of the Buddha: self-purification by self-observation. 

        It can be practiced by one and all. Everyone faces the problem of suffering. It is a universal malady which requires a universal remedy, not a sectarian one. When one suffers from anger, it's not Buddhist anger, Hindu anger, or Christian anger. Anger is anger. When one becomes agitated as a result of this anger, this agitation is not Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim. The malady is universal. The remedy must also be universal. 

       Vipassana is such a remedy. No one will object to a code of living which respects the peace and harmony of others. No one will object to developing control over the mind. No one will object to developing insight into one's own nature, by which it is possible to free the mind of negativities. Vipassana is a universal path. 

        Observing reality as it is by observing the truth inside—this is knowing oneself directly and experientially. As one practices, one keeps freeing oneself from the misery of mental impurities. From the gross, external, apparent truth, one penetrates to the ultimate truth of mind and matter. Then one transcends that, and experiences a truth which is beyond mind and matter, beyond time and space, beyond the conditioned field of relativity: the truth of total liberation from all defilements, all impurities, all suffering. Whatever name one gives this ultimate truth is irrelevant; it is the final goal of everyone. 

        May you all experience this ultimate truth. May all people be free from misery. May they enjoy real peace, real harmony, real happiness. 


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Friday, October 28, 2011

The Peace Beyond

The Peace Beyond

A Dhammatalk by Ajahn  Chah

       It's of great importance that we practise the Dhamma. If we don't practise, then all our knowledge is only superficial knowledge, just the outer shell of it. It's as if we have some sort of fruit but we haven't eaten it yet. Even though we have that fruit in our hand we get no benefit from it. Only through the actual eating of the fruit will we really know its taste.
       The Buddha didn't praise those who merely believe others, he praised the person who knows within himself. Just as with that fruit, if we have tasted it already, we don't have to ask anyone else if it's sweet or sour. Our problems are over. Why are they over? Because we see according to the truth. One who has realized the Dhamma is like one who has realized the sweetness or sourness of the fruit. All doubts are ended right here.
       When we talk about Dhamma, although we may say a lot, it can usually be brought down to four things. They are simply to know suffering, to know the cause of suffering, to know the end of suffering and to know the path of practice leading to the end of suffering.
This is all there is. All that we have experienced on the path of practice so far comes down to these four things. When we know these things, our problems are over.
       Where are these four things born? They are born just within the body and the mind, nowhere else. So why is the teaching of the Buddha so detailed and extensive? This is so in order to explain these things in a more refined way, to help us to see them. 
       When Siddhattha Gotama was born into the world, before he saw the Dhamma, he was an ordinary person just like us. When he knew what he had to know, that is the truth of suffering, the cause, the end and the way leading to the end of suffering, he realized the Dhamma and became a perfectly Enlightened Buddha.
       When we realize the Dhamma, wherever we sit we know Dhamma, wherever we are we hear the Buddha's teaching. When we understand Dhamma, the Buddha is within our mind, the Dhamma is within our mind, and the practice leading to wisdom is within our own mind. Having the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha within our mind means that whether our actions are good or bad, we know clearly for ourselves their true nature.
       That is how the Buddha discarded worldly opinions, praise and criticism. When people praised or criticized him he just accepted it for what it was. These two things are simply worldly conditions so he wasn't shaken by them. Why not? Because he knew suffering. He knew that if he believed in that praise or criticism they would cause him to suffer.
       When suffering arises it agitates us, we feel ill at ease. What is the cause of that suffering? It's because we don't know the truth, this is the cause. When the cause is present, then suffering arises. Once arisen we don't know how to stop it. The more we try to stop it, the more it comes on. We say, ''Don't criticize me,'' or ''Don't blame me''. Trying to stop it like this, suffering really comes on, it won't stop.
       So the Buddha taught that the way leading to the end of suffering is to make the Dhamma arise as a reality within our own minds. We become those who witness the Dhamma for themselves. If someone says we are good we don't get lost in it; they say we are no good and we don't forget ourselves. This way we can be free. 'Good' and 'evil' are just worldly dhammas, they are just states of mind. If we follow them our mind becomes the world, we just grope in the darkness and don't know the way out.
       If it's like this then we have not yet mastered ourselves. We try to defeat others, but in doing so we only defeat ourselves; but if we have mastery over ourselves then we have mastery over all-over all mental formations, sights, sounds, smells, tastes and bodily feelings. 
       Now I'm talking about externals, they're like that, but the outside is reflected inside also. Some people only know the outside, they don't know the inside. Like when we say to 'see the body in the body'. Having seen the outer body is not enough, we must know the body within the body. Then, having investigated the mind, we should know the mind within the mind.
       Why should we investigate the body? What is this 'body in the body'? When we say to know the mind, what is this 'mind'? If we don't know the mind then we don't know the things within the mind. This is to be someone who doesn't know suffering, doesn't know the cause, doesn't know the end and doesn't know the way leading to the end of suffering. The things which should help to extinguish suffering don't help, because we get distracted by the things which aggravate it. It's just as if we have an itch on our head and we scratch our leg! If it's our head that's itchy then we're obviously not going to get much relief. In the same way, when suffering arises we don't know how to handle it, we don't know the practice leading to the end of suffering.
       For instance, take this body, this body that each of us has brought along to this meeting. If we just see the form of the body there's no way we can escape suffering. Why not? Because we still don't see the inside of the body, we only see the outside. We only see it as something beautiful, something substantial. The Buddha said that only this is not enough. We see the outside with our eyes; a child can see it, animals can see it, it's not difficult. The outside of the body is easily seen, but having seen it we stick to it, we don't know the truth of it. Having seen it we grab onto it and it bites us!
       So we should investigate the body within the body. Whatever's in the body, go ahead and look at it. If we just see the outside it's not clear. We see hair, nails and so on and they are just pretty things which entice us, so the Buddha taught to see the inside of the body, to see the body within the body. What is in the body? Look closely within! We will find many surprises inside, because even though they are within us, we've never seen them. Wherever we walk we carry them with us, sitting in a car we carry them with us, but we still don't know them at all!
       It's as if we visit some relatives at their house and they give us a present. We take it and put it in our bag and then leave without opening it to see what is inside. When at last we open it - full of poisonous snakes! Our body is like this. If we just see the shell of it we say it's fine and beautiful. We forget ourselves. We forget impermanence, suffering and not-self. If we look within this body it's really repulsive.
       If we look according to reality, without trying to sugar things over, we'll see that it's really pitiful and wearisome. Dispassion will arise. This feeling of 'disinterest' is not that we feel aversion for the world or anything; it's simply our mind clearing up, our mind letting go. We see things as not substantial or dependable, but that all things are naturally established just as they are. However we want them to be, they just go their own way regardless. Whether we laugh or cry, they simply are the way they are. Things which are unstable are unstable; things which are not beautiful are not beautiful.
       So the Buddha said that when we experience sights, sounds, tastes, smells, bodily feelings or mental states, we should release them. When the ear hears sounds, let them go. When the nose smells an odour, let it go...just leave it at the nose! When bodily feelings arise, let go of the like or dislike that follow, let them go back to their birth-place. The same for mental states. All these things, just let them go their way. This is knowing. Whether it's happiness or unhappiness, it's all the same. This is called meditation.
       Meditation means to make the mind peaceful in order to let wisdom arise. This requires that we practise with body and mind in order to see and know the sense impressions of form, sound, taste, smell, touch and mental formations. To put it shortly, it's just a matter of happiness and unhappiness. Happiness is pleasant feeling in the mind, unhappiness is just unpleasant feeling. The Buddha taught to separate this happiness and unhappiness from the mind. The mind is that which knows. Feeling2 is the characteristic of happiness or unhappiness, like or dislike. When the mind indulges in these things we say that it clings to or takes that happiness and unhappiness to be worthy of holding. That clinging is an action of mind, that happiness or unhappiness is feeling.
       When we say the Buddha told us to separate the mind from the feeling, he didn't literally mean to throw them to different places. He meant that the mind must know happiness and know unhappiness. When sitting in samādhi, for example, and peace fills the mind, then happiness comes but it doesn't reach us, unhappiness comes but doesn't reach us. This is to separate the feeling from the mind. We can compare it to oil and water in a bottle. They don't combine. Even if you try to mix them, the oil remains oil and the water remains water, because they are of different density.
       The natural state of the mind is neither happiness nor unhappiness. When feeling enters the mind then happiness or unhappiness is born. If we have mindfulness then we know pleasant feeling as pleasant feeling. The mind which knows will not pick it up. Happiness is there but it's 'outside' the mind, not buried within the mind. The mind simply knows it clearly.
       If we separate unhappiness from the mind, does that mean there is no suffering, that we don't experience it? Yes, we experience it, but we know mind as mind, feeling as feeling. We don't cling to that feeling or carry it around. The Buddha separated these things through knowledge. Did he have suffering? He knew the state of suffering but he didn't cling to it, so we say that he cut suffering off. And there was happiness too, but he knew that happiness, if it's not known, is like a poison. He didn't hold it to be himself. Happiness was there through knowledge, but it didn't exist in his mind. Thus we say that he separated happiness and unhappiness from his mind.
       When we say that the Buddha and the Enlightened Ones killed defilements, it's not that they really killed them. If they had killed all defilements then we probably wouldn't have any! They didn't kill defilements; when they knew them for what they are, they let them go. Someone who's stupid will grab them, but the Enlightened Ones knew the defilements in their own minds as a poison, so they swept them out. They swept out the things which caused them to suffer, they didn't kill them. One who doesn't know this will see some things, such as happiness, as good, and then grab them, but the Buddha just knew them and simply brushed them away.
       But when feeling arises for us we indulge in it, that is, the mind carries that happiness and  unhappiness around. In fact they are two different things. The activities of mind, pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling and so on, are mental impressions, they are the world. If the mind knows this it can equally do work involving happiness or unhappiness. Why? Because it knows the truth of these things. Someone who doesn't know them sees them as having different value, but one who knows sees them as equal. If you cling to happiness it will be the birth-place of unhappiness later on, because happiness is unstable, it changes all the time. When happiness disappears, unhappiness arises.
       The Buddha knew that because both happiness and unhappiness are unsatisfactory, they have the same value. When happiness arose he let it go. He had right practice, seeing that both these things have equal values and drawbacks. They come under the Law of Dhamma, that is, they are unstable and unsatisfactory. Once born, they die. When he saw this, right view arose, the right way of practice became clear. No matter what sort of feeling or thinking arose in his mind, he knew it as simply the continuous play of happiness and unhappiness. He didn't cling to them.
       When the Buddha was newly enlightened he gave a sermon about indulgence in pleasure and indulgence in pain. ''Monks! Indulgence in pleasure is the loose way, indulgence in pain is the tense way.'' These were the two things that disturbed his practice until the day he was enlightened, because at first he didn't let go of them. When he knew them, he let them go, and so was able to give his first sermon.
       So we say that a meditator should not walk the way of happiness or unhappiness, rather he should know them. Knowing the truth of suffering, he will know the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and the way leading to the end of suffering. And the way out of suffering is meditation itself. To put it simply, we must be mindful.
       Mindfulness is knowing, or presence of mind. Right now what are we thinking, what are we doing? What do we have with us right now? We observe like this, we are aware of how we are living. Practising like this, wisdom can arise. We consider and investigate at all times, in all postures. When a mental impression arises that we like we know it as such, we don't hold it to be anything substantial. It's j ust happiness. When unhappiness arises we know that it's indulgence in pain, it's not the path of a meditator.
       This is what we call separating the mind from the feeling. If we are clever we don't attach, we leave things be. We become the 'one who knows'. The mind and feeling are just like oil and water; they are in the same bottle but they don't mix. Even if we are sick or in pain, we still know the feeling as feeling, the mind as mind. We know the painful or comfortable states but we don't identify with them. We stay only with peace: the peace beyond both comfort and pain.
       You should understand it like this, because if there is no permanent self then there is no refuge. You must live like this, that is, without happiness and without unhappiness. You stay only with the knowing, you don't carry things around.
       As long as we are still unenlightened all this may sound strange but it doesn't matter, we just set our goal in this direction. The mind is the mind. It meets happiness and unhappiness and we see them as merely that, there's nothing more to it. They are divided, not mixed. If they are all mixed up then we don't know them. It's like living in a house; the house and its occupant are related, but separate. If there is danger in our house we are distressed because we must protect it, but if the house catches fire we get out of it. If painful feeling arises we get out of it, j ust like that house. When it's full of fire and we know it, we come running out of it. They are separate things; the house is one thing, the occupant is another.
       We say that we separate mind and feeling in this way but in fact they are by nature already separate. Our realization is simply to know this natural separateness according to reality. When we say they are not separated it's because we're clinging to them through ignorance of the truth.
       So the Buddha told us to meditate. This practice of meditation is very important. Merely to know with the intellect is not enough. The knowledge which arises from practice with a peaceful mind and the knowledge which comes from study are really far apart. The knowledge which comes from study is not real knowledge of our mind. The mind tries to hold onto and keep this knowledge. Why do we try to keep it? Just to lose it! And then when it's lost we cry.
       If we really know, then there's letting go, leaving things be. We know how things are and don't forget ourselves. If it happens that we are sick we don't get lost in that. Some people think, ''This year I was sick the whole time, I couldn't meditate at all.'' These are the words of a really foolish person. Someone who's sick or dying should really be diligent in his practice. One may say he doesn't have time to meditate. He's sick, he's suffering, he doesn't trust his body, and so he feels that he can't meditate. If we think like this then things are difficult. The Buddha didn't teach like that. He said that right here is the place to meditate. When we're sick or almost dying that's when we can really know and see reality.
       Other people say they don't have the chance to meditate because they're too busy. Sometimes school teachers come to see me. They say they have many responsibilities so there's no time to meditate. I ask them, ''When you're teaching do you have time to breathe?'' They answer, ''Yes.'' ''So how can you have time to breathe if the work is so hectic and confusing? Here you are far from Dhamma.''
       Actually this practice is just about the mind and its feelings. It's not something that you have to run after or struggle for. Breathing continues while working. Nature takes care of the natural processes - all we have to do is try to be aware. Just to keep trying, going inwards to see clearly. Meditation is like this.
       If we have that presence of mind then whatever work we do will be the very tool which enables us to know right and wrong continually. There's plenty of time to meditate, we just don't fully understand the practice, that's all. While sleeping we breathe, eating we breathe, don't we? Why don't we have time to meditate? Wherever we are we breathe. If we think like this then our life has as much value as our breath, wherever we are we have time.
       All kinds of thinking are mental conditions, not conditions of body, so we need simply have presence of mind, then we will know right and wrong at all times. Standing, walking, sitting and lying, there's plenty of time. We just don't know how to use it properly. Please consider this.
       We cannot run away from feeling, we must know it. Feeling is just feeling, happiness is just happiness, unhappiness is just unhappiness. They are simply that. So why should we cling to them? If the mind is clever, simply to hear this is enough to enable us to separate feeling from the mind.
       If we investigate like this continuously the mind will find release, but it's not escaping through ignorance. The mind lets go, but it knows. It doesn't let go through stupidity, not because it doesn't want things to be the way they are. It lets go because it knows according to the truth. This is seeing nature, the reality that's all around us.
       When we know this we are someone who's skilled with the mind, we are skilled with mental impressions. When we are skilled with mental impressions we are skilled with the world. This is to be a 'knower of the world.' The Buddha was someone who clearly knew the world with all its difficulty. He knew the troublesome, and that which was not troublesome was right there. This world is so confusing, how is it that the Buddha was able to know it? Here we should understand that the Dhamma taught by the Buddha is not beyond our ability. In all postures we should have presence of mind and self awareness - and when it's time to sit meditation we do that.
       We sit in meditation to establish peacefulness and cultivate mental energy. We don't do it in order to play around at anything special. Insight meditation is sitting in samādhi itself. At some places they say, ''Now we are going to sit in samādhi, after that we'll do insight meditation.'' Don't divide them like this! Tranquillity is the base which gives rise to wisdom; wisdom is the fruit of tranquillity. To say that now we are going to do calm meditation, later we'll do insight - you can't do that! You can only divide them in speech. Just like a knife, the blade is on one side, the back of the blade on the other. You can't divide them. If you pick up one side you get both sides. Tranquillity gives rise to wisdom like this.
       Morality is the father and mother of Dhamma. In the beginning we must have morality. Morality is peace. This means that there are no wrong doings in body or speech. When we don't do wrong then we don't get agitated; when we don't become agitated then peace and collectedness arise within the mind.
       So we say that morality, concentration and wisdom are the path on which all the Noble Ones have walked to enlightenment. They are all one. Morality is concentration, concentration is morality. Concentration is wisdom, wisdom is concentration. It's like a mango. When it's a flower we call it a flower. When it becomes a fruit we call it a mango. When it ripens we call it a ripe mango. It's all one mango but it continually changes. The big mango grows from the small mango, the small mango becomes a big one. You can call them different fruits or all one. Morality, concentration and wisdom are related like this. In the end it's all the path that leads to enlightenment.
       The mango, from the moment it first appears as a flower, simply grows to ripeness. This is enough, we should see it like this. Whatever others call it, it doesn't matter. Once it's born it grows to old age, and then where? We should contemplate this.
       Some people don't want to be old. When they get old they become depressed. These people shouldn't eat ripe mangoes! Why do we want the mangoes to be ripe? If they're not ripe in time, we ripen them artificially, don't we? But when we become old we are filled with regret. Some people cry, they're afraid to get old or die. If it's like this then they shouldn't eat ripe mangoes, better eat just the flowers! If we can see this then we can see the Dhamma. Everything clears up, we are at peace. Just determine to practise like that.
       Today the Chief Privy Councillor and his party have come together to hear the Dhamma. You should take what I've said and contemplate it. If anything is not right, please excuse me. But for you to know whether it's right or wrong depends on your practising and seeing for yourselves. Whatever's wrong, throw it out. If it's right then take it and use it. But actually we practise in order to let go of both right and wrong. In the end we just throw everything out. If it's right, throw it out; wrong, throw it out! Usually if it's right we cling to rightness, if it's wrong we hold it to be wrong, and then arguments follow. But the Dhamma is the place where there's nothing - nothing at all.


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Global warming vs dharma cooling

Global warming vs dharma cooling 
Published: 20/08/2009 at 12:00 AM
Bangkok Post Newspaper section: Mylife
       The natural environment around us has plunged into a catastrophic state. But have we ever noticed that the natural environment inside our body, which includes our peace of mind, is also entering the same situation, due to our boundless greed and over consumption?

        Phra Paisal Visalo : ‘‘Dharma is indispensable during this time. Nature and dharma are inseparable. Before restoring nature, we should restore dharma in our mind first.’’

        As the world's temperature steadily soars, the temperature inside our mind is also heating up rapidly.

       Consequently, global and mental warming situations are not so different, since both phenomena are equally crucial. And they need to be cured simultaneously, since internal heat can affect the external environment. We all should bear in mind that we can survive only if nature survives.

      Virulent threats

       According to the revered monk Phra Paisal Visalo, the abbot of Wat Pa Sukhato in Chaiyaphum province, the major cause of global warming and other environmental problems stems from humans' detrimental attitudes towards nature.

       ''Humans fail to realise that they're part of nature. They can survive and maintain their race throughout the passage of time, simply because of nature's mercy and hospitality. Humans should be grateful to nature,'' suggested the monk who has devoted his life to protecting the forest in Chaiyaphum.

      ''Humans think that they're the master. What we commonly see in this technological-driven era is humans trying to control nature and overly, irresponsibly, and unmindfully exploit it,'' Phra Paisal added.

       According to the monk, the incessant exploitation of nature happens because humans think that real happiness comes from the ability to possess a large number of material things, but they are still not gratified.

       ''They think that the more they have, the happier they are.

       Their success in life can be measured from the number and kind of cars they own and the price of the house, land, and other possessions they have, including money in their bank account.

       "With this attitude, people highly compete to consume and possess more, with consumerism as the stimulator and the capitalism as the supporter," he said.

     Is our greed unquenchable?

       Human greed has never been fulfilled because people still want more and more, resulting in the ceaseless destruction of nature in order to pamper their luxurious and wasteful life.

       Yet, their happiness has never increased in line with their material wealth, which can be seen in the high rate of suicides and patients with mental disorders and neurosis.

       "Such attitudes and consequent behaviours make people ignore and estrange themselves from nature. They are even estranged from themselves. They immerse themselves in many unnecessary activities like talking on the phone almost all the time, shopping, and surfing the net. Everything they do contributes to the ruin of nature," said the monk.

       It's no exaggeration to say that our natural environment is in crisis because our interior nature is out of balance. Deep down inside people feel alone, depressed and hopeless. That is why they are trying to indulge themselves with material things.

       "No matter how they succeed in transforming nature into a wide variety of consumer goods, assets, and money, humans can't be full and their soul is still empty," stressed the monk.

      A cure for our mental imbalance

       The monk pointed out that the natural environment can't be restored to its healthy state as long as humans' internal nature is still unstable. The elixir that can bring a balanced mind back to all souls during this crisis is "dharma medicine", specially concocted by Lord Buddha. "Dharma is indispensable during this time. In fact, nature and dharma are inseparable. Before restoring nature, we should restore dharma back to our mind first. People must be aware of the fact that we're a part of nature. Our survival totally depends on the survival of nature," Phra Paisal said.

       Apart from curing our soul's sickness, dharma also provides us with many precious lessons on sustainability, self-sufficiency, loving compassion and spiritual happiness, he added.

       "Nature teaches humans to enjoy a simple life and encourages them to embrace happiness, which derives from peace of mind, making merit, helping others, and being at one with nature."

       The monk went on to say that any souls that seek mental tranquility and adopt dharma as their guide will be lighter, calmer, freer and happier.

"This type of mind will be ready to wholeheartedly protect and save nature. It's a mind that won't take advantage of nature, people, community and society. It's a mind that can return serenity and peace to the world," said the abbot.
       A simple yet noble happiness

       In this era of consumerism, humans greedily hunt for material happiness and along the way they fail to expose themselves to a more noble happiness. When people start controlling and reducing their desires, material happiness becomes less attractive.

       "Happiness occurs easily when humans feel enough. And when that happens it's no longer necessary to exploit nature."

       Everything in nature teaches lessons about dharma and the truth of life, but only if we open our eyes and attentively listen to it.

According to Phra Paisal, those with an agitated mind will be calmer when surrounded by nature. Their heart will easily fill with goodwill and when they look deeply into their mind, they can cultivate mindfulness, concentration and spiritual wisdom.

        The open-minded can learn several chapters of dharma from nature, whether it be the impermanence of life or the well-knitted connection of all lives. Nature also teaches us the lessons of morality and dedication, from the generous trees that provide shade and shelter to animals, the ants that are diligent and persevere to build their kingdom, and the birds that fly happily with no material burdens.

       "Nature is the greatest while we're just a tiny life form. Nature teaches us to be humble and understand our real status. We're just a small part of it. When we feel humble, we will not be arrogant and we will get closer to nature."

        How grass and a rock teach dharma
        All life is inseparable and nature always can teach us several lessons of dharma if only we open our eyes, pay attention and listen.

       Phra Paisal recalled that someone once asked Luang Pu Mun (one of the most venerable monks) how he learned so much about dharma, since he didn't study much. The senior monk answered that "for those who have wisdom, dharma can be found in every nook and cranny". Meanwhile, a reformist monk named Bhuddhadasa Bhikkhu always suggested that visitors to his forest hermitage Suan Mokka (Garden of Release) learn how to listen to the trees and rocks that teach dharma all the time.

        "Those who hope for mental prosperity should set aside time to be in nature. With our humble mind, we will see both dharma and our inner nature which lead to the understanding of the truth of life.

"Several revered monks became enlightened because of nature. When they see a falling leaf or a wrinkled lotus, they realise that their time in this world is limited. This is a wisdom derived from exposure to nature."

Nature has been giving for so long, while humans have been taking. It is now time for all of us to take care of our generous provider.

"As nature is in great peril, we should not take advantage of her ... humans should be generous and grateful to nature by fully safeguarding it, whether through reforestation, recycling, protecting wildlife, and raising awareness of environmental problems," Phra Paisal said.
     Global warming vs dharma cooling

       Natural conservation work is somewhat time-consuming and it is an uphill battle as long as there are selfish people who show no respect for nature. The monk encouraged everyone, nature lovers in particular, to be patient.

"We should not be disheartened or feel uncomfortable. If we understand that protecting nature is like practicing dharma, we will feel more peaceful.

"While the world's temperature is soaring, we should not be frustrated. If we protect nature with our suffering, everything will turn out to be harmful to ourselves. We should not be hotter like our world. With a calm and cool mind, we can create good things for the Earth," the monk emphasized.




By Buddhadasa Bhikkhu


The world must have all kinds of religion, there can’t be just one, but they must be able to understand each other. (67) 


Everyone ought to get ready to share the world with the lunatics. (68) 


To put it most correctly, no hindrances (nivarana) is the precise meaning of being concentrated. (69) 


Learning Dhamma in the forest has Nibbana as its object; learning Dhamma in the city has Food, Fun, and Fame as its object. (70) 


Take the Dhamma meant to be learned in the forest and study it in the university: you’ll end up with a piece of prestigious paper. (71) 


Give people the opportunity and means to help themselves, that's really giving "The Gift of Dhamma." (72) 

To make someone diligent you also must give them the means to prevent mental disease. (73) 


If people knew why animals aren't neurotic, people wouldn't be neurotic at ever increasing rates. (74) 


The Buddha didn't teach death and reincarnation; rather, he taught only the matter of dukkha and the quenching of dukkha. (75) 


The thing deceiving us the most is that thing we name "happiness." (76)


We can be happy or miserable without a "person," it only takes mind concocted or unconcocted to experience whichever condition. (77) 


Having Dhamma is like being in a mosquito net and beckoning the mosquitoes (dukkha) to come and bite. (78) 


Voidness – Truth – Nibbana: these are asankhata (unconcocted). (79) 


Even among fish there are both householders and homeless wanderers, so why can't people also have both? (80) 


Personal language is supposed truth, Dhamma Language is ultimate truth. (81) 


The Lord Buddha spoke in both people language and Dhamma Language. (82) 


Why must they forbid teaching anatta, suññata, and the Kalama Sutta?(83)


If you look carefully, there's only gain and never loss, even in the dukkha and death we so intensely fear and despise. (84) 


The Correct – Good – Real – Beautiful Thing is what quenches dukkha. (85) 


"Of the people, by the people, for the people" -- be I careful, 

the people could be crazy. (86) 


When the owners and workers can love each other there will be lasting peace. 



The United Nations is still just Malivaraja3 trying to put out fires with a leaky bucket. (88) 


Genuine happiness doesn't require money, but causes a surplus of it. (89) 


Raise dogs as our teachers, in order to be people rather than dogs. (90) 


We must teach non-attachment even to thumb-sucking babes. (91) 


Enough contentment to bow to oneself is true heaven here and now. (92)


Don't live or do anything with expectations, only with sati-pañña (mindfulness and wisdom). (93) 


Ethical fearlessness is the pinnacle of courage. (94) 


When duty isn't done there, Dhamma flees the monastery to live amidst the rice fields. (95) 


“Mr. Grope" is everyone's teacher, even the philosopher's. (96) 


Dhammic Socialism is the owners and workers being able to love each other. (97) 


Except dukkha and dukkha's quenching, nothing requires our interest and attention. (98) 


Though evil may not show any physical effects it spooks and disturbs the mind until death. Don't play games with it. (99) 


Every kind of samadhi is one-pinnacled mind with Nibbana as its sole concern. (l00) 


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By Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

The more progress, the more insanity with the material; the, more insane, the more believing it is progress. (34)


The terrible thing to know first of all is the story of these five nivarana (hindrances); if they aren’t known it’s impossible to know anything~ about kilesa (defilement). (35) 


Being a comrade of nature is something that interests no one. (36)


The Heart of Buddhism in the symbol of the cross -- "cutting ego-body." (37)


The Heart of Buddhism on The Bible's first page: not attaching to good and evil; otherwise you must die. (38) 


Everyone is capable of being a Buddhadasa (Servant of the Buddha), if not a lot then at least a bit, but they aren’t at all interested. (39) 


There are two kinds of deathlessness: not dying physically (for sentient beings) and not dying spiritually (for human beings). (40)


People who despise the Wat and despise the Dhamma mostly aren't aware that they hate; thus, they never think of turning to Dhamma. (41) 


Vinaya was laid established, Dhamma was discovered and proclaimed; this is how different they are. (42) 


Life survives by naturally occurring "temporary Nibbanas"; otherwise, we'd all be neurotic, if not flat-out dead. (43) 


The world's people are ungrateful – as if deaf and blind – toward "temporary Nibbana." On top of that they become traitors by reviling Nibbana. (44) 


Every point and system of morality has Paramattha-dhamma (ultimate truth) as its source. (45) 


If morality doesn't return there will be world annihilation, if it comes back the world will be tranquil and cool; but no one is at all interested. (46) 


If ultimate truth returns the world will be bright, if it doesn't return the world remains dark; but now the darkness has become ordinary. (47)


Humans are creating a world such that God can do nothing but merely sit and watch blinking away anger and tears. (48) 


Children really are the true world builders of the future. (49) 


That worshipping in front of Buddha images, however much they arrange it, the more superstitious it becomes. (50) 


If we watch the world that God is creating this very moment, we'll see how undependable it is and that it can't be trusted either. (51) 


Fools say that only time eats us and that we can't eat time. (52) 


When we're gluttonous, food eats us; when we're mindful, we eat food. How it is typically, you'd better think and observe for yourself. (53) 


Interpreting paraloka wrongly it becomes the "next world." Actually, it's "another kind of world" from what we usually have here. (54) 


The more incense and candles lit, the more it becomes superstition; at best, it's Buddhism for thumbsucking kids. (55) 


Sexual pleasures are the wages for breeding, don't get too interested or you'll end up worshipping them. (56) 


I can't give you riches, but might give a mind far more valuable. (57)


Buddhists must know how to speak both people language and Dhamma language. (58)


One person speaks money language, another speaks Dhamma language; how in the world will they understand each other. (59) 


Language spoken as if there was a "self" is people language; words spoken without any meaning of "self" is Dhamma language. (60) 


Be careful that metta-karuna (loving kindness and compassion) don't become sexual love before you know it. (61)


One should manage daily life so that it is full with Nibbana -– tranquility of coolness. (62) 


They wait to receive the flavor of Nibbana after they've died, although they ought to receive it here and now. (63) 


Every kind of work always makes one a bit smarter, even sweeping up trash. (64) 


Equal rights for women deprive the world of both fathers and mothers, leaving only sexless neuters. (65) 


The churches built by a Personal God will be closing down, but the churches' built by idappaccayata (the Natural Law of Conditionality) will be opening more and more. (66) 


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