Taught by Sayadaw U Jotika on 06/20/2002
Words from the transriber (Viet Hung): Below is the transcript of a recorded Dhamma Discussion session with Sayadaw U Jotika. It has no title. However, based on the content of the whole discussion, I suggest to name it “A Rebel and His Freedom“. Those are the two main topics discussed throughout the session. You can listen to the recorded session on Soundcloud as embedded below, or you can read the transcript. There may be minor mistakes here and there in the transcript. But I’m certain mostly all the words should be there and you can get all the points in the right way.
May all mindfulness, peace and happiness be with you.
[Skipped till 3:04] I was told that I was a rebel since I was very young. At that time, I didn’t know what the word rebel means. But later, I found out what the word meant. Because I want to think for myself and do things in my own way. Since I was very young, my parents and my teachers found that I was very difficult to tell. Because I wouldn’t listen to anybody. That doesn’t mean that I don’t respect them. Maybe what they told me was right, or it may be wrong. Who knows? So since I was very young, I started to think for myself and try to find out things that I want to know in my own way. So it was a hard way and it took longer. But I like learning things the hard way. Because (when) learning things the hard way, you learn it really well. If you take the easy way, you learn very superficially.
So I like to teach things to myself. Even when I was young, I like to read books like Teach Yourself any Subject. So when we were young, we have books in the bookshops with the title Teach Yourself. Even now, sometimes I see books like that in bookstores. So, to find out for yourself, you need to work harder. And this also I learn from the Teaching of the Buddha. Since I was about 12 years old, I started reading Dhamma books. Before that, I read a lot of story books, books on adventures. And about 12, I started reading serious books like Dhamma books and philosophy books, psychology books. I don’t mean to say that I understood everything that I read. Because I was too young. But anyway, I found myself attracted to Dhamma, since very young. So when I was reading Dhamma books, one thing that made me really get interested in the Teaching of Buddha is one advice of the Buddha. And I will recite that in Pali. Because this is something very … that was very deeply to my heart. And in Pali: “Attā hi attanō nāthō“. Anybody read that Pali verse? Any of you who read that? “Attā hi attanō nāthō, kō hi nāthō parō siyā” (from Dhammapada verse 160). Has anybody read that? Oneself is one’s reliance. How can anybody else be one’s reliance? And that’s the meaning of the two lines.
And the verse is four lines and the rest of the two: “Attā hi attanō nāthō, kō hi nāthō parō siyā, attanā hi sudanténa, nātham labhati dullabham”. By training oneself, by disciplining oneself well, one achieves that reliance which is very hard to achieve. Or one attain that reliance that is very hard to attain. So when I was younger, I did not understand the depth of the meaning of these, of this verse. But I understood only very superficially the first two lines, very superficially. But even that has changed my attitude and my life totally. Because when I first read this advice of the Buddha, Buddha said oneself is one’s own reliance. That’s incredible, actually. Because all the time people told me that I should rely on somebody else. But here, Buddha said oneself is one’s own reliance. And that made me think quite a long time. And I like to think also. I really love thinking. I enjoy thinking. So I read every word carefully and try to understand the meaning as I think it over and over again. So oneself is one’s own reliance means you can rely on yourself also. You are reliable. You can rely on yourself. You can trust on yourself. So that means that you can train yourself so that you become self-reliant. And this gave me a lot of courage and confidence. And I started thinking, yes, I can rely on myself. I can learn. I can find out. I can experiment and I can find out. So this gave me a lot of courage to find out for myself.
And as I read many other religions and many philosophies, the more I learn other thinking of philosophies, the more I appreciate the Teaching of the Buddha. Because in most cases, people don’t encourage another person to think for himself or herself, to find out for himself or herself. Mostly, leaders want to tell the followers that “believe me, do what I tell you to do”. But here, Buddha said, you can trust yourself. You can rely on yourself. You can find out for yourself. And also, when I read the qualities of the Dhamma, Buddha said, one can practice and find out oneself whether the Dhamma is true or not. So Buddha invites people to experiment to find out. So when I think, oh I can rely on myself, I can learn, I can experiment and find out for myself, I don’t mean to say that I don’t take anybody’s advice. I had many teachers, many good teachers, actually, and I’m very grateful to them because of what they taught me. But every time I learn something, I put that into practice. So when putting that into practice, I get result. And from that result, I confirm myself that this is practical, this could be done and this is good. So all of us need good advice and teaching from other people. But always we must put the teaching and the advice into practice and find out for ourselves. Just to believe something and not to practice it is very superficial.
So when I first started reading this verse, it stays in my mind. And I think about it quite often, even now, every day, almost every day. I remember this “attā hi attanō nāthō“, oneself is one’s own reliance. So, since I learned that, I asked myself the question, “How can I rely on myself?” Because when we are very young, we rely on our parents to give us everything we need, to teach us. We rely on our teachers to teach us and to tell us what to do. But as we grow older, we must find out for ourselves. So I started thinking, I must learn more. I must put into practice what I learn. So since then, I started reading more and more books and think for myself. I made a lot of mistakes. But I also learned from my mistakes. And this is also very important. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes not knowingly. Because when we do something, naturally, because we don’t have all the knowledge, we may make mistakes. But if we are afraid to make mistakes, if we are afraid that we will make mistakes, we won’t even try. So fear makes us passive. When you are afraid, you don’t want to make a move. Because you are afraid that you make a mistake. So, don’t be afraid. When you make mistakes, people will tell us, “Oh, you have made the mistakes. I told you so. Why don’t you listen to me? You don’t listen to me, now you have made a mistake.” When people tell me like that, I said, “Yes, I did not listen to you. And I made a mistake. And now I have found out that this is a mistake. And I’ve learnt from my mistake.”
So, I only remind myself again and again that don’t make the same mistake twice. Learn from your mistake. And it’s a very good way to learn. But before I do something, I think very carefully. I tried to find out all the details I can get and very cautiously I put that into practice. Therefore, when I make a mistake, before the mistake becomes too big, I become aware that I’ve made a mistake. So I correct myself immediately. So that way, I’ve learned the hard way (that) many things that the Buddha said are true. So I encourage, especially younger people, to learn, to learn more, to practice more, and find out for yourself. And I believe that most of you here are also learning and practicing. So you may have many questions. Don’t hesitate to ask me questions. Write down on a piece of paper and hand it to me.
So I’ll tell you the meaning of the two, the last two lines also. “Attanā hi sudanténa, nātham labhati dullabham“. By disciplining or by training oneself well, one can attain that reliance, which is very hard to attain. So when I was younger, I did not understand what that means. “Attanā hi sudanténa”, by training oneself well or by disciplining oneself well, what does that mean? How do one train oneself? How do one discipline oneself? How do you train yourself? So, I read many more books and found out that you can discipline yourself by keeping the precepts. Five Precepts. That’s a discipline. So I try my best not to do anything that will harm other people. So when I was very young, I was very skeptic and I did not believe in anything. But I believe in a few things, a few principles, a few values. I don’t believe in causing harm to any being can benefit me. By giving trouble, by causing harm to another being, I will not get any good result. That is something I believe. So I try my best not to harm other beings.
And another thing is, how to talk about, but (it’s) very hard to practice also is honesty. Honesty means many things. It is a very wide meaning. And for me, the most important meaning of honesty is not to pretend that you know something that you don’t really know. Not to pretend, not to pretend that you believe something that you don’t really believe. And because of that, I got into trouble many times. I will give you some details from my own life. When we had to fill the forms for application in the university, we have to fill what religion you believe in. I put down “no religion yet”. I can write down anything and nobody will check me and nobody will ask me. But I’ll write down “no religion yet”. Every year, I put down the same thing. “No religion yet”, “no religion yet”. I’m still trying to find out. I’m not sure. I can’t tell. Because to say that you follow a Teaching is very serious. You cannot say that, without really meaning it. So I studied the Teaching of Buddha. I practiced the teaching of Buddha for many, many years until I was 25. Then one day, while I was meditating, I felt great peace and joy. My mind became very calm. Then I felt really grateful to the Buddha, and spontaneously it came from my mouth, I recited: “Buddham Saranam Gacchami. Dhammam Saranam Gacchami. Sangham Saranam Gacchami”. It came from my heart. I felt great gratitude for the Buddha, for his teaching.
So when I practiced meditation, then I found out what it meant to train yourself and to discipline yourself. Because keeping five precepts, you discipline your bodily behavior and your verbal behavior only. But by practicing meditation, you discipline your mind also. Because when you meditate, you become more aware, more mindful, more mindful of everything, more aware of everything, your bodily behavior, your verbal behavior, and also your mental behavior. So I’m more interested in the mind. I’m very interested in psychology. So when I read the Teaching of the Buddha, I paid more emphasis on his Teaching on the mind. And when I practice meditation, I got more interested in awareness of thoughts.
So as I practice more and more, I found out that the mind is very wild. It’s like a wild horse. It runs here and there all the time. Very hard to tame. But just by watching the mind, but just by watching all the thoughts going in my mind, gradually I found out that as I become more and more mindful, my thoughts become more and more orderly. So this mindfulness or awareness, it trains the mind to become more orderly. When the mind is not trained, it is more chaotic, jumping from one thing to another. Mostly what we think is not really useful, not really beneficial. So when I pay more attention to what I think, gradually I found out that most of what I think is not really useful. And just by seeing the nature of the thought, it slows down and less and less unnecessary thinking or useless thoughts arises. So the mind becomes more orderly, more systematic. Even when I think, I found out that when I’m more mindful, I think more systematically. Even thinking becomes more systematic. It has a direction. It goes step by step forward to get to the right conclusion. So after practicing meditation, then I learn the deeper meaning of the advice of the Buddha: By training oneself well, by disciplining oneself well, one can attain that reliance, which is very hard to attain.
So, only by practicing meditation, we can discipline ourselves. We can train ourselves. So, meditation is a training. Meditation is a discipline. It is a mental discipline, mental training. So, when we train our mind, when we discipline our mind, it becomes more orderly and it becomes more productive, more creative. And when the mind becomes more calm and more orderly, it can see things more clearly. It can see the truth, the reality about our body and mind. So, the truth and the reality that we need to know is in our body and mind. It’s not somewhere else. It’s not out there. So, the Teaching of the Buddha emphasized to find out the truth about our own body and mind, which we can also call the world. So in the Teaching of the Buddha, in many instances, when the Buddha mentioned the word “world” or “loka” in Pali, it means body and mind. So, by understanding our body and mind and how the body and mind works together and how the mind influences the body, how thoughts influences the body, and also how what we see, what we hear, what we smell, what we taste and what we feel affects our mental states. We see the nature of body and mind very deeply.
So usually, we’d like to think that we are free. Most of you want to believe that you are free. And I’d like to think also that I am free. And because I like freedom very much, since I was very young, I became more rebellious. Because I think that not to obey somebody means you are expressing your freedom. Being a rebel means being free, which was wrong. Because by being a rebel you cannot be really free. Because you are reacting. So, reaction is not freedom. Freedom is not reaction. Only after practicing meditation and especially after practicing awareness of thoughts, I saw that although I wanted to think or believe that I was free, I found that I was not free. Because greed or anger or pride or envy or jealousy motivates most of my actions. I was more influenced by greed or envy or jealousy or hatred or anger. So, the more I see how anger or greed or envy or jealousy influenced my behavior, the more I feel that I was not free. But the more I see that I was not free, the more it motivates me to become free.
And the first thing that I noticed was that when I know that I am not free, that is a kind of freedom. When you know that you are not free, that is a kind of freedom. Can you understand that? Yes. Because when you don’t know that you are not free, you have no hope to become free. So, the first step in achieving freedom is to be aware, to know that you are not free. So, when I see that my mind is influenced by many things, many things I see, many things I hear, many things that other people say. When somebody says something to me and I get angry, I see that, “Well, I’m angry”. And who is making me angry? Somebody else. So I thought: If another person can make me angry, am I free? My answer was “NO”. If somebody can influence my mind so strongly and so immediately, how can I say that I’m free? And when I see something, I became greedy, I want that, I want that. And I watch my mind. My mind keeps thinking of what I want. And when I need to study something, I can’t concentrate my mind on what I want to study. My mind goes back to thinking about what I want and the desire. The stronger the desire, the more I think about it. So I became aware of that mental state too. Oh, I want that. I want that. I keep thinking about that. I can’t concentrate my mind on what I want to study. Then I know that, “Oh, my mind is not free”. The desire is like a trap. It’s like a prison. So, the more I see that anger or greed or envy or jealousy or pride or any other negative mental states makes my mind like a prisoner, the more I want to be more and more free.
So, sometimes in my meditation practice, the mind became more and more mindful, more and more calm, more and more peaceful. And it settled on some object, simple object in my body happening like breathing or in my mental states also. So, the mind became more calm and more peaceful. And when it is really calm and peaceful, I noticed that at that moment there is no greed or desire. I did not think about what I want. There is no anger or hatred. I was not thinking of what I don’t like, what I hate. There is no comparison. So, there is no pride or conceit. So the word “mana” in Pali, which is translated into English as pride or conceit, (but) it’s not really accurate. The word “mana” in Pali literally means to compare, to measure. Because “mana”, the word “mana” in Pali comes from the root “mi“. The root of the word “mana” is “mi“. “Mi” means to measure, to compare. So whenever you compare yourself with another person and think that “Well, I am lower than him”, that is also mana. But in English you won’t call that pride. Because you think yourself lower. Because the word “pride” means you think yourself higher than somebody else. So when I really found out the meaning of the word “mana“, it also opened my mind very much. Anyway, if you compare yourself with another person, that’s mana. And any kind of comparison will not make you happy, will not make you free. Because when you think that “Oh, I am lower than him”, you feel unhappy and that unhappiness is not freedom. And when you think that I’m higher than him and you think you feel happy. But even that happiness is not freedom. It is a trap. It is a prison. So when I see these mental states arising in my mind, while they are arising, not thinking about them, I’m really watching that mental state while it is there. I see that when there is pride, when there is any kind of comparison, there is no freedom.
So, once in a while, in my meditation practice, the mind became very calm and peaceful and pure, no greed, no anger, no hatred, no pride, no comparison, no envy, no jealousy, no drowsiness, really clear and bright mental state, full of energy, but very calm. Then, I see that this mental state is so calm and so peaceful, so pure, so clean, so admirable. And I can also see that there is freedom. And I thought, well, only if I can live like this forever. I wanted that mental state to last forever. Then I thought even that one thing is a kind of desire. But anyway, I see that when the mind is free from greed or any kind of desire, anger, hatred, any kind of comparison, envy or jealousy, then it is free. So, I understand that freedom is not rebellion, not reaction. When you are really free, you are not rebelling, you are not reacting. Then I understand the deeper meaning of freedom. So although, I cannot be totally free all the time of all these mental states, (but) ecause my mind can be free sometimes, I understand deeper meaning of freedom. And gradually, as I practice meditation, more and more, I feel myself becoming more and more free. Then I understand that this is the only way that can lead to freedom. This is the only way that can lead to purity. Only when you can see that the mind is not pure, it can become pure. Because observing, paying attention, being mindful or being aware cleans the mind. It’s like washing your mind.
So, in the Teaching of the Buddha, there is a simile. Buddha said mud happens because of water. But when your hand gets dirty with mud, you wash your hand with water. In the same way defilement happens in the mind because of your thinking. But when defilement happens in your mind, you wash that with another mental state, another mind. And that is washing. So being mindful is washing. We wash our body every day. We sweat the whole day and we get dirt on our body. So we don’t like being dirty. So we wash our body every day. So in the same way, we need to wash our mind also. But how? By paying attention to what’s happening in the mind. By paying attention to what we are thinking, what we are feeling. So by paying attention to any kind of mental state, that awareness purifies the mental state. So even attachment to peacefulness is not really good. But in the beginning stage of our meditation practice, we cannot help getting attached to peaceful, calm mental states.
And when we feel peaceful and calm, we get attached to that mental state and we watch that mental state again. Oh, attachment to calmness. Attachment to peacefulness. And by watching that mental state again and again, gradually we become more and more detached from even calmness and peacefulness. And if you are not aware, you will feel that, Oh, I’m so calm. I’m so peaceful. Oh, I can see so clearly. I can understand dhamma so deeply. And even that thinking that I can, I can or I am, I am is a kind of impurity. So by watching that mind again, we can purify that mental state. So any kind of attachment, even attachment to calmness or peacefulness or purity can make you unhappy. Because it doesn’t last forever. So in the beginning stages of our practice, we need to pay attention to any kind of mental state, whether it’s good or bad. By doing that, we become more and more free. Then I understand what the Buddha said. By training oneself, by disciplining oneself, one can attain that reliance, which is very hard to attain. So training or disciplining means being mindful, being aware, paying attention, seeing directly what is happening now. So, meditation is not thinking. Real meditation practice is looking, seeing, paying attention. So very simply put, meditation means paying attention. I believe that most of you are also meditators. You may have your experience in meditation practice.
So, I invite you to ask me questions about your meditation practice. So, here’s the question. Well, this question is a long question. It is written in Burmese. So for those who cannot understand Burmese, I’ll translate that into English. So this person said the last time you came to Singapore and gave a Dhamma talk, you said something which very suits me. You said when you make a mistake, correct your own mistake. Since then, whenever I make an honest mistake, I remember what you said. And when I remember what you said, the unhappiness for making that mistake stops. And also I listen to your dhamma tapes again and again. And I like one thing you said. You said, I choose happiness today.
This is amazing, you know? Do you really choose happiness? Most people don’t even think about that. What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you wake up in the morning? Have you paid attention to that? I paid attention to my thoughts also. Not only in the morning. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and if you are not aware, you are thinking about something. And if you pay attention, you will find out that mostly your thoughts are not happy thoughts. The first thing that comes to your mind is what worries you much. What bothers you much? So if you don’t make conscious choice to choose happiness, mostly unhappy thoughts will occupy your mind most of the time. So, it is important to make a conscious choice, to choose happiness, to remind yourself that I choose happiness. But even though you choose happiness, unhappy thoughts will come to you, will appear in your mind. But whenever you remember that you are thinking unhappy thoughts, you can watch that thought. So if you pay more and more attention, you will find that mostly your unhappy thoughts are not useful. It’s useless. You just wear yourself out. You just get more tired. You waste your energy. When you think too much unhappy thoughts, too many unhappy thoughts, you become so tired that you don’t have energy left to do any good work. You can’t even think good thoughts or happy thoughts. So it’s a habit. It’s a bad habit. Anything becomes habit. So don’t get into the habit of thinking unhappy thoughts most of the time. Naturally, we have problems in our life. So, we need to find a solution to overcome our problems, our difficulties. But finding a solution is not the same as dwelling on an unhappy thought. Sometimes we think about something that we cannot do anything about. But we keep thinking and thinking and thinking and burn ourselves out. Unhappy thoughts can really make your body burn. Especially in a hot weather like this, if you think of unhappy thoughts, you will find that you sweat more. Your body gets very hot. Which means that your body is using more energy.
So, unhappy thought consumes more energy. Happy thought doesn’t consume so much energy. So compared to unhappy thoughts and happy thoughts, unhappy thoughts use up more energy. So, if you can stop thinking unhappy thoughts every time, anytime you think of unhappy thoughts and pay attention, the more you can reduce unhappy thoughts, the less you will feel tired. So many of my students, so to say, so to speak, who practice awareness of thoughts, learn to stop thinking unnecessary thoughts. So the moment that you become aware of your thoughts, you can see what you are thinking about. And if it is necessary, you can go on thinking. But if it is not necessary, you can stop thinking. So as you learn not to think of useless, unhappy, worrying thoughts, you will find that at the end of the day, you are not so tired. And most people told me again and again that now that I’m more aware of my thoughts, I don’t think of unnecessary, useless, worrying, anxiety thoughts. And when I don’t think of worrying thoughts or anxiety thoughts, I don’t feel so tired at the end of the day. So if you need more energy and I believe that you need more energy, I need more energy too… So if you need more energy to do good work, you have to learn, you have to find out ways how to conserve your energy.
So these days, you read a lot about conservation, conservation of this, conservation of that, Conservation of energy. Now even you you have bulbs which use less energy. Because scientists know that when you light a bulb, 90% of the energy is transformed into heat, not too light. Only about 10% of the energy becomes light. 90% of the energy becomes heat. So you don’t want heat, when you switch on the light. You only want light. So in the same way, if you don’t want to waste energy, you need to find ways to conserve energy. Because especially in our body, we have limited amount of energy. No matter how energetic you are, still you have limited amount of energy, limited amount of time. So if you want to be more productive, you need to find ways to conserve your energy. And the one thing that wastes most of our energy is unhappy thoughts, angry thoughts, worrying thoughts, anxiety that wastes a lot of energy. So no matter how much you eat, if you think worrying thoughts, you will not feel energy. You won’t have energy. If you can pay attention to what you think and reduce unnecessary thinking, unnecessary worrying, you will have much more energy to do productive work. You will become more creative. You will feel more peace. You will feel more confident even. Because if you keep thinking of what worries you, you will have less confidence in yourself.
So, just by worrying, you will not become confident. This is very important to understand. Why do people worry? Mostly people worry because they think that if they worry more and more, they will find a way to overcome worry, to overcome what they are worrying about. But that is not true. That is a big mistake. So why keep worrying? You cannot overcome worry. By trying to maintain your composure, by keeping your mind calm and peaceful, you can find a better way to solve the problems in your life. So when you become more calm and more peaceful, when you have more mental energy, you are more creative. So to become more creative, you need to learn to train your mind, to become more mindful, more concentrated. Therefore, more calm and peaceful. So a calm and peaceful mind has more energy and it is more creative. So we need to have more energy and we need to be more creative. We need to be more confident. So by practicing mindfulness, we can develop all these qualities: confidence, energy, creativity. So with confidence and energy and with also creativity, we can find new ways, better ways to see, to understand what we need to do, to see and understand our problems and to solve the problems.
So meditation can help us to understand even daily problems, problems in our daily life. Because when we are more calm and peaceful, you don’t react. You don’t do anything automatically. So whenever there is a problem, you can pay more attention and find a very simple way to overcome that problem. If you react, you make things more complicated. You waste your energy. So therefore, we need to learn a way to be peaceful and happy most of the time. Buddha never encouraged anybody to be unhappy. Buddha encouraged all his disciples to learn, to feel joy and happiness. So one quality of mind which we can develop in our meditation practice is called “pīti“, in Pali words, it is called “pīti“. And when translated into English, they translated that as zest, joy. So we become more enthusiastic, to be more enthusiastic, to feel joyful. But not only that, the word “pīti” has another meaning, which means interest. So when your mind becomes calm and peaceful, you have zest, enthusiasm, joy and interest. So to do anything well, you need that mental state, to have interest, to be happy doing something you are doing, to feel joy.
So being unhappy is very unproductive. So to become more productive, we need to learn a way to feel joy, happiness, interest, to feel enthusiastic, to become more enthusiastic. So consciously, we must remind ourselves again that I choose happiness. Most people don’t know that they are choosing unhappiness. They won’t even accept that they are choosing unhappiness. But I see that some people, at least I know, choose unhappiness. Whenever they start to speak something, they will start what went wrong. They never talk about what went right. I know some people like that. The moment they open their mouth, they will talk about something wrong. Something wrong about themselves or something wrong about somebody else. So they are making themselves unhappy and they are also going around spreading unhappiness, which is not really good, not fair.
So when you become more mindful, you can really choose. Because when you are not mindful, you have no choice. You just react. Only when you have mindfulness, you have a choice. This is very important to understand. Without mindfulness, without awareness, there is no choice. We only react. So reaction is not freedom. So if you want freedom, don’t react. Be mindful and choose. So when you become more mindful, then you have choice, then you have freedom. So we want choice. We want freedom. So can you choose your thought? If you cannot choose your thought, do you have freedom? No. So when you talk about freedom, we need to go very deeply to find out what we really mean by freedom. So when you become more mindful, then you can see what’s really happening. Then you have a choice and freedom.
And this person here said, in brief, I want a gentle mind, a clear mind, a free mind, a cool mind, and a mind which is satisfied. Although I want that kind of mental state all the time, mostly my mind is not gentle. Which is true. But this is where we start. This is where we begin to practice. First, you know that your mind is not gentle. It’s very aggressive. It’s angry, upset. Therefore, when I encourage people, my friends and my students, to pay attention to what they are thinking, the first thing they report me is that self knowledge is no good news, they said. When I look at my mind and pay attention to what I’m thinking, mostly what I see is not good. That’s okay. First of all, we need to see that habitually we are thinking of negative thoughts. But only when we become aware of our negative thoughts, gradually we can overcome those negativities, those negative thoughts.
And another question is… attachment. Before I can overcome attachment by developing insight… An attachment here means attachment to the teacher, attachment to self… Where can I keep my mind? It’s very simple. The answer is very simple. You know that you are attached to something or somebody, your teacher or your group, your society, your belief. So when you see that this is attachment and see that any kind of attachment doesn’t give you freedom, that will lead you to freedom and detachment. So paying attention to attachment is the way to overcome attachment. But there are many other ways that you can use to overcome gross attachment. Because attachment has many degrees, many layers. So when you know that when you are attached to your teacher, what happens? You will think that what my teacher said is true. And anything, what somebody else said which does not agree with what my teacher said is not true. So you are biased. You don’t know. You don’t even find out whether what somebody else said is true or not. But because you are attached to your teacher, you want to believe that, only what my teacher said is true. Anything that does not agree with my teacher is not true, which is something Buddha warned us against.
“Don’t believe something just because your teacher said that”. Have you read that in any sutta? Kalama Sutta. Yes. Kalama Sutta. Buddha said that: Don’t believe something just because your teacher said so. Don’t believe something just because it’s in the tipitaka or in any textbook. Don’t believe something just because it is logical. Don’t believe something just because it agrees with your own thinking. So there are many, many points in that Sutta that Buddha said. And ultimately Buddha said, “Don’t believe something because it’s the Buddha who said that”. So Buddha did not encourage any kind of blind faith, any kind of attachment. So Buddha encourage total freedom, to find out for yourself, practice and find out. So you know that attachment makes you biased. So when you are biased, you are not fair. When you are biased, you are not open minded. So when you know that any kind of attachment makes you not free, not fair, any kind of attachment makes you bias. And when you see that you are attached to, you don’t encourage yourself to get more attached.
So what’s your attachment? More and more. And you will find that attachment makes you feel tired. And you don’t want to be tired. So there are a few more questions here. Ah, many questions. Wonderful. Very interesting questions. Well, this is a very good one. What is the price of freedom? Is it responsibility?
Well, we must remember when we use the word price, because whenever we use the word price, we think of going and buying something. And we are very reluctant to pay the money. We want to bargain. Well, can you reduce the price? So when we use the word price here, what is the price of freedom? We may be thinking that to get freedom we must give up something precious. Is that the kind of idea in your mind? Whenever we use the word price, we think that to get something, we lose something. So do you lose something, when you become free? What is that something you lose when you become free? And here is it responsibility? So we want to think that to have freedom, we must be responsible. So that’s the price we pay. So are you reluctant to be responsible? So words are very important. We need to use words, but we need to be very clear about what we want to mean. What do you mean by that word?
Of course, in the worldly sense, responsibility and freedom come together. A person who is not responsible is not worthy of freedom. For example, to give you a very simple simile. When you drive on the road, you must be a responsible driver. Because if you make a mistake, not only you hurt yourself, you hurt other people, too. You may even kill another person. You may even kill yourself. So you must be very responsible. When the traffic light turns red, you must stop. You have no choice. So that’s your responsibility. Very strict. So you are free within the rule or law. You have to keep the traffic rules to have freedom to drive on the road. If you cannot keep the traffic rule, you are not free to drive on the road. So keeping the traffic rules is being responsible. So a person who cannot be responsible cannot be trusted to have a license to drive the car on the road. So responsibility and freedom come together in the worldly sense. And in practicing meditation, responsibility here means paying attention. When you pay attention, then you are responsible. You have anger, you are angry. You want to hit. You want to say something that hurts another person. But you are aware of that, oh, angry, angry. So when you pay attention to the fact that you are angry, then you are responsible. So when you are responsible, you don’t go and hit. You don’t say something that will hurt another person.
You want to wait for a while. You want to cool down and calm down. And when you cool down and calm down, then you think of a better way to do something about the problem. And always when you are calmer, when you are cool, you find a better way. So you don’t go and hit another person. You don’t say anything that will hurt another person. But you go and negotiate with that person. You go and ask a few things to clarify what he did or what she did, and you will tell that person what you want, what you expect. So anyway, what I mean is you will find a better way to solve the problem. And many people told me that when they become aware that they were angry and because of that awareness, they don’t react and stop. They stop and they took time to be more mindful and calm down. And therefore they found a better way to deal with the problem. And they came up with a better solution. And when they solve the problem or the conflict with awareness and wisdom and got a good result, they felt very happy. So many people told me that “I’m very happy that I did not react immediately when I got upset. Because if I reacted, if I were, if I had reacted, I would have caused the problem even worse”.
So being mindful and not reacting means you are being responsible. That is the price you pay. But you don’t lose anything, you gain. So to be free means to be mindful. Because without mindfulness, we have no freedom. And to be mindful means to be responsible. Sometimes you cannot stop your anger. You keep getting angry. You keep thinking about what went wrong and you still feel angry, but you don’t react. You don’t say anything. You don’t do anything. You watch your anger again and again, until it becomes less and less and cooled down. And sometimes, although it does not disappear completely, (but) because you are aware, you don’t react. And you go and deal with that person and talk and clarify and negotiate and find a better solution. Although you still feel angry, you have a better result. So the anger may go away or it may not go away. But just because you are mindful and just because you are not reacting, you are responsible. So by doing that, by practicing that, gradually you become more emotionally mature. So anger is an emotion. Any anything, happiness is also emotion. So when we are more aware of our emotions, we become more balanced. We become more mature. So I don’t mean to say that you should never get angry. You should never feel happy. These emotions are natural and in some cases they are necessary for our survival. Because when we use the word anger, the meaning of the anger is very limited. But the Pali word is “dosa”. Dosa means also fear, and even depression is dosa. So the word dosa has a very wide range of meaning. Any kind of anger or frustration or hatred or any kind of fear or worry or anxiety, it’s dosa.
So when we watch these mental states, we become more mature, we become wiser. And when we are aware of that mental state, that mental state cannot overwhelm our mind. So anything you can observe objectively cannot control you. For example, how to overcome depression, how to overcome anxiety or worry? If you can really pay attention to that mental state, you already detach yourself. So by paying attention, you detach yourself. That means you do not let that mental state control your mind. So the first step in overcoming any kind of negative mental state is to pay attention. So by paying attention, you see it objectively. So if you don’t see things objectively, your habit magnifies the problem. But when you see the problem objectively, you can find a better way to solve the problem. And you can see that the problem is not that big. What matters to you is not that really important. So I find a book, and in that book I read a few sentences… And the author quoted another author and it said, “Don’t sweat small problems”. That’s the first sentence. And the second sentence is “All problems are small problems”. So don’t sweat over any problem.
So when you are not mindful, problem seems very big. But when you are mindful and therefore wiser, you can see that it’s not that important. Ultimately, nothing matters. So when we are not mindful, we think that what we are experiencing now is a matter of life or death. And some people therefore commit suicide. Because they think that the problem is too big. They try to solve the problem by killing themselves. Recently, one person told me whether it’s a good decision to commit suicide. I said, killing yourself never solve any problems. She wanted to solve a problem, and she thought that by killing herself, she will solve the problem. But killing yourself never solve any problem. So when you are not mindful, your emotion overwhelms your mind and you cannot find any good solution. Therefore, you need to be very mindful not to let your emotions run your life. Emotions are okay, but don’t let emotions run your life. Be aware, be mindful of your emotions.
So, there are so many questions. This is a good one. Can Buddha hear our prayers, especially when we approach him when we have problems?
Well, of course, when we have problems, we want to seek help from somebody. We want to ask for help, which is natural. And so we go to the Buddha and pray, “Buddha, help me solve the problem”. But to tell you the truth, Buddha attained Nibbāna and passed away into Nibbāna. Therefore, (Buddha) won’t be listening to your prayers. And because Buddha won’t be listening to your prayers, he won’t hear your prayers and won’t be able to solve your problems.
What do we do when we have problems? Buddha gave us techniques to practice so that we will be able to solve any problem in our life. Buddha only give us technique. Buddha did not give us any solution. So we cannot go to the Buddha and ask for help to solve all our problems. But if we really practice what the Buddha taught, we will develop the wisdom, and our wisdom will solve the problem. It’s only our wisdom that can solve the problem. To develop wisdom is very important. If you don’t develop wisdom, you will be confronted with problems every day in your life and every time you have a problem, you cannot go to the Buddha and ask for Buddha to solve your problems. So the best thing we can do is to practice what the Buddha taught and become more mindful and wise and therefore solve our own problems.
And when you become more mindful and wise, one thing really wonderful happens to you. And you know what? Most of your problems just disappear. This is really true. Because mostly we create the problems. Mostly we are responsible for the problems in our life. But we don’t see that. So if you keep creating problems and if you go and ask somebody to solve your problems, that won’t be really wise to do. So this is true. This is my experience and this is the experience of many other people who practice meditation in their daily life. I know from my own experience that when my mind becomes more mindful and calm and peaceful, I have less and less problems. Because I can see that my thinking, my wrong views, my wrong expectations, my wrong attitudes, my wrong behavior, my bad behaviors are creating problems. Really this is true. So when I see my mind and stop creating problems and when I see that my attitude is wrong and correct my attitude, when I see that the way I talk to people is not proper and correct the way I relate to people, the way I talk to people and so on and on… when I see my mistakes and correct my mistakes, when I make less mistakes, then I found out that I have less problems. And these days it’s very hard to have big problems. No big problems anymore. Only small problems.
So what’s the biggest problem in our life? What do you feel very, very unhappy about? Can you give an answer? Any kind of answer? Where does the biggest problem come from? The source of our problem is in the mind. But when we have problems, mostly it’s about somebody else. Is that true? What makes you most unhappy is your relationship with other people. If your relationship with other people is good, other problems are minor. So it is very important to have the right attitude when we relate to other people, our parents. Maybe you are unhappy about your father or about your mother, the way they treat you. Maybe you are unhappy about your spouse, the way your spouse behaved. Or maybe unhappy about your friends or anybody. Mostly we feel unhappy because of our relationship with other people, especially with people we love. So when we have problems like that, we need to find out how we can improve our own attitude, how we can improve our own mind? Because we cannot go and correct another person’s mistake. It’s not really possible. We can correct our own mistake, if we can see the mistake and admit the mistake and correct ourselves. So that is the kind of power. To see our own mistake and to correct our own mistake make us feel really powerful. If you cannot see your mistake, and if you cannot correct your mistake, then you feel very weak. So if you don’t want to have many problems in your life, the best thing you can do is to be more mindful, to be more mindful of your attitudes, your desires, your anger, your frustrations, your mental states, and try to develop higher mental states, any kind of higher mental states, loving kindness, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, mindfulness, concentration, wisdom. So the more you develop good qualities in your mind, you will find that you have less and less problems. So most of your problems, maybe 90% of your problems, will just disappear. And the rest, 10%, you can bear with it, you can cope with it, and you can work again, you can keep working to overcome the problems.
But your bodily problems will not totally go away. Even Buddha sometimes got sick and some physician treated him. Even Arahants sometimes had physical problems, but no mental problems. So mental problems, psychological problems, emotional problems are more serious. Physical health problems, well, they are also important in serious, but not as serious as mental problems.
And the next question here is: Can you share your personal experience? Have you seen Buddha in your dream or any other experience before?
Well. I don’t see Buddha in the dreams, not real Buddha. But the Buddha that I imagine is in my mind, the Buddha that I understand is in my mind. So I’d like to think about the Buddha very much. Because after I learned the Teaching of the Buddha, and especially after I learned to meditate and when I experienced a calm and peaceful and pure mind, I thought, even my mind becomes so calm and peaceful and pure. Compared to me, the Buddha’s mind must be much, much more calmer and pure and clean and peaceful. So when you experience calmness and peacefulness and purity, and also when you experience clarity of seeing and understanding, when you experience wisdom or insight, then you know that Buddha, with Buddha’s wisdom, must be much, much higher. Buddha’s purity must be much more pure. Buddha’s calmness and peacefulness must be much more deeper and more calm and more peaceful. Then you really feel respect and admiration and love and gratitude and all that toward the Buddha.
So the Buddha I know is in my mind. Only when you understand Buddha, only when you experience calmness, peacefulness, purity and clear wisdom, you can have some understanding of the nature of the Buddha. Therefore, Buddha said only who understands Dhamma, only who sees Dhamma sees me. Buddha said that. If you don’t understand Dhamma, if you don’t practice Dhamma, if you don’t experience Dhamma, then what you mean by Buddha would be like a person, a human being, a person with a body. You can only imagine the body. So at the time of the Buddha, some people who were very attached to the Buddha, including monks, wanted to be near the Buddha. So they will find a place where they can see the Buddha and they will just sit there and look at the Buddha, really enjoying seeing the Buddha. Of course, I would really feel happy if I can see the Buddha, anybody would. Because even reading about the qualities of the Buddha, even reading about Buddha’s appearance and imagining how he would be like makes one feel very happy.
But seeing the Buddha with your eyes is not really seeing the true Buddha. Because true Buddha who you cannot see with your eyes. You really see true Buddha, you can see only through your experience of Dhamma. So if you really want to see the Buddha, practice. And with your practice, when you experience the truth about what the Buddha taught, then you will see the Buddha.
Well, this is a very good question and it is a common question I think. Most people would like to ask the same question. The question is: Sayadaw, thank you for teaching us. I agree with what you said. Unfortunately, since young, I have the habit of getting worried and anxious easily. That affects my general health.
Of course, if you worry too much, if you have too much anxiety, it will affect your health. Negative mental states have very harmful effect on your body. And now these days they have done many medical research in the West, especially in America, where they prove that any negative thought can have a very harmful effect on your body.
(continuing the question) I’m weak, feel tired easily and usually can’t sleep well. I think this is a very common problem these days. I find meditation difficult. Could you please advise how I can overcome the problem and start meditation?
Maybe meditation is difficult in the beginning. It is not really difficult. Meditation is quite simple. For example, I started practicing meditation by sitting for only ten minutes. And the teacher who taught me meditation practice was not a monk. He was a musician and a musical instrument maker also. I was very interested in music and I learned music. So he became my teacher, music teacher and also meditation teacher. I visited his home in the evening and studied music from him, and after music lessons he asked me to sit and meditate. So I agreed and sat with him. He told me to breathe deeply, forcefully. Because he said, since you been busy all day, your mind is very agitated. Therefore, if you breath gently, you won’t be able to pay attention to your breath. Because it’s so gentle. Therefore, breathe deeply and pay attention to your breath. So I did that. I sat and meditated. So I breathe deeply, which is unnatural, of course. But breathing deeply for ten minutes and paying attention to the breath made my mind quite calm. But after that he said, now you breathe naturally and pay attention to your breath. So I tried that also. Because my mind became relatively calmer, I was able to pay attention to natural breathing. So I sat like that for another 5 or 10 minutes. And then he said, pay attention to the whole body. So, I paid attention to the whole body, and felt that the whole body was vibrating with energy.
So when you sit and meditate and breathe deeply, you get a lot of oxygen and that gives you a lot of energy. And I feel a lot of energy in my body. So I got very interested. I did not know much about meditation and did not expect anything. I just did what my teacher told me to do. And not because I wanted to become to become enlightened. In those days, I did not know what it meant. And I did not want to become enlightened. But I love my teacher. Because he was such a kind person, very virtuous person, very honest. And he practiced Dhamma. Therefore, because of my love for my teacher, I practiced meditation with him whenever I went to visit his home. So it’s very simple. The main thing is the willingness to meditate and interest also. So if you are interested in something, although it may be difficult in the beginning, you won’t give up. And if you keep on meditating, gradually it will become easier. Everything is difficult before it is easy. So what you need is real willingness and interest.
We breathe since we were born. And we will go on breathing until we die. We breathe all the time. But because we don’t pay attention, we don’t know that we are breathing. When you pay attention, then you know that you are breathing. Breathing in and breathing out. So your mind will stay with your breath for a few moments. And before you know, you start thinking about something else, that’s okay. But when you become aware that you are thinking, you pay attention to your thinking, thinking, thinking, and then come back to your breath. Keep doing that. So practice anywhere, everywhere, no matter what you are doing, no matter where you are, no matter how you are sitting, whether you are sitting or standing or walking, pay attention to something happening in your body. And the simplest thing is breathing. Because it’s always with you. So if you keep doing that throughout the day, not just when you sit, throughout the day, no matter where you are, maybe you are riding on a bus or on your MRT or maybe you are working in your office. Whenever you become aware, pay attention to your breath. So if you keep practicing it, gradually, your mindfulness will become stronger, your concentration will become stronger. So as your mindfulness and concentration becomes stronger, your meditation practice will become easier and easier.
And the question continues… The problem is I can’t concentrate and observe my mind when I’m weak and tired.
Well, you can even pay attention to feeling tired. Can you do that? Anything that you feel that you experience can be and should be the object of your meditation practice. Anything you feel, even headache or tension, any pain, any sensation that you feel should be and can be the object of your meditation practice. So meditation is paying practice no matter what. Just paying attention is meditation. So you can pay attention to feeling tired and headache or tension in your neck or anything you feel in your chest, in your abdomen, in your legs, in your feet,… Whatever you feel, pay attention. That is meditation.
And this is the question that I think I’ve already answered. But anyway, I’ll answer the question again: Sayadaw, what are the ways or what do we do to reduce the mental hindrances?
Mental hindrances means any kind of desire, greed, any kind of anger or hatred or frustration, any kind of thought, envious or jealous or any kind of comparison. These are hindrances. The only way to reduce and in the end to overcome all these hindrances is to pay attention, to be aware of that. So when you are aware that you have any kind of desire, any kind of greed, just paying attention will make that greed or desire weak. The more attention you pay, the weaker the desire will become. So the only way is to pay attention. Therefore, the Buddha said in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta, the foundations of mindfulness, in that Sutta Buddhas said: “Ekāyano ayaṃ, bhikkhave, maggo sattānaṃ visuddhiyā”. “Visuddhiyā” means to become pure. To become pure means to be free of all these hindrances. Buddha said “Ekāyano”. “Ekā” means one. “Ayana” means way, path. “Ekāyano” means one path which means the only path. This is the only path. “Ekāyano bhikkhave maggo”. “Maggo” also means path. So this is the only path. This is the only practice which can lead to purity means overcoming hindrances. There is no other way to do that.
There is a way, temporary solution, which means diverting your mind. For example, some people say that when you hate somebody, send letter. It may work sometimes, but mostly it doesn’t work. But sometimes, there’s another way to do that. When I get angry with somebody, I thought, he will die and I will die. So what’s the use getting angry? That helps sometimes. When you know that both of us, all of us will die, then somehow the problem seems smaller, not so important anymore. Another way is to see that there is nobody there, only mental and bodily processes. Only processes. There is nobody there. There is nobody here. Who is angry to whom? So nobody is angry. When you see that there’s nobody there, then how can you get angry? But this is quite difficult. This needs a lot of insight.
(Question) Can you still progress in meditation if we have difficulty in reducing the mental hindrances?
Yes. Because, as you know, a person who has attained the first stage of enlightenment is still not free from all greed. That person is free from certain type of greed, but not all greed. That person is free from certain type of anger, but not all anger. So you do not need to be totally free from all these hindrances. To see that these are only hindrances, like, say, for example, when you have any desire, you see that this is desire, a natural process, a mental state, which means this is not me. This is not myself, this is not mine. When you see the desire is desire, not the person, that is a progress. So to see the desire is desire is a progress. Although desire still happens, you have made some progress. To see that anger is anger, not a person, just a mental state which arises and passes away. That is a progress. To see that anger is not always there. Only when the object, the mental object, what happened, the thought arises, then there’s anger. When we are not thinking of what makes us upset, we are not angry. But the moment we start thinking of what makes us angry, we feel angry. So when you see that natural cause and natural effect arising and passing away, you don’t take it so seriously. And that is progress. So we can still make progress, although we are not reducing hindrances. But when you see the desire is desire, not a person, you are already reducing one hindrance, wrong view. Because when you think that desire is a person, which means I desire, I want. And it is “I” who want, then that is the kind of wrong view. But when you pay attention and see that desire is just desire, there’s nobody there, then you have already overcome one hindrance – wrong view.
And this is another question: Can meditation helps to improve overall health, such as, removing stress, immune against cancer? What are the benefits of meditation?
Well, to answer that question will take many hours. Because the benefit of meditation are many. The first benefit of meditation is calmness, peacefulness. Because awareness makes you feel calmer, more calm, more peaceful. Therefore, when your mind is more calm, more peaceful, you don’t get so tired and stressed out. You have more energy. Awareness, concentration gives you clarity. Your mind becomes more clear. You see more clearly. You understand more deeply. The benefit of meditation is innumerable. I have made a list thinking that someday I will give a Dhamma talk on the benefits of meditation. I will need a couple of hours to explain in detail the benefits of meditation. So to make my answer short and to the point, yes, meditation helps to improve overall health. It helps you to sleep better. Yes, many people meditate just because they want to fall asleep. And I did that too. And I still do that. Sometimes because I like to think so much that interesting thoughts come to my mind. And I keep thinking. And it’s late in the night. Because the thoughts that come to me are so interesting that I can’t go to sleep. Therefore, I watch the thought and said, okay, enough. And I meditate and tell myself that my mind is calm and I want to go to sleep. When my mind became calm, I paid attention to that mental state. Calm. When my mind became peaceful, I paid attention to that mental state. Peaceful. Calm, peaceful, quiet. And it is very important. When I pay attention to the quietness in the mind, it becomes more quiet.
Because when we think, we are talking in the mind. And when we are thinking in the mind, the mind is not quiet. It is quite noisy. Because there’s internal chatter, talking, talking, talking in the mind. It’s not quiet. So when I became aware of that talking in the mind, I watched that and it stopped. When it stopped, there’s quiet. So I pay attention, quiet. When I pay attention to quietness, it became more quiet, then fall asleep. So whatever you do, if you pay attention, there will be more balance.
Immune against cancer? Yes. It improves your immunity. When you meditate, your body produces a kind of hormone which is known as, which is called endorphins. The word is plural. Because there are three different kinds of endorphins that the body produces. It is called endogenous morphine. It is a combined word. Two words combined. Endogenous morphine. You know the word morphine. What does what it means? There’s a kind of injection that the doctors give to the patients who is experiencing extreme pain which cannot be controlled by ordinary painkillers. It is a derivative of opium. And endogenous means producing inside. So your body produces morphine, isn’t that great? It’s great. So when you meditate. When the mind becomes calm, the body produces more endorphins.
But it’s not the same as that injection. Because that injection makes you feel less aware, less mindful. It makes you feel sleepy and drowsy. But the endogenous morphine, which is called endorphins, makes you feel calm and peaceful, but still makes you alert. And when the body has higher level of endorphins, it stimulates the immunity, the immune system of your body. So it improves the production of B cells and T cells, immune cells. So there are many different kinds of immune cells, helper cells, suppresser cells and killer ourselves. So killer cells kills other cells or any other kind of organisms that comes into your body. So when the body cell transform, how do I say that, become cancer cells, the immune system detects that and destroys that. So when you have higher immunity, it can destroy cancer cells. And nowadays there are doctors in America who teaches meditation to cancer patients. And they have proved, statistically of course, not everybody overcomes cancer disease… But there are statistically evidence showing that those who meditate has higher chance of recovering from cancer. This has been proved statistically. Therefore, there are now many hospitals where doctors teach patients to meditate.
And there is a book written by a doctor called Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. He worked as the Department Head of Behavioral Medicine in Massachusetts Medical Center. It’s a teaching university and also a hospital. And he wrote a book called Full Catastrophe Living. And the subtitle of the book is Overcoming Pain, Illness and Stress by Using the Wisdom of the Body and Mind. That’s a very interesting book, and you will benefit from reading that book, whoever asked this question.
So there is no doubt that meditation can improve a person’s health. Not only a person’s health, meditation can improve the quality of your life in every way. It can even improve your study. It can even improve your business, your work. It can improve your creativity. It can improve your relationships because you are more aware. You don’t say things that will hurt other people. So if you really want a better life, one thing you can really do is to meditate, to become more aware of your mental states. And this is also a way of expressing our love for our self. If you really love yourself, meditate. Not only that, Buddha himself advised us saying that if you love somebody, encourage, teach and help that person to practice mindfulness, which is something I do. Really, the best thing you can do for another person is to help that person become more aware of his or her mental states, his or her thinking. Because once you become more aware of your thoughts, naturally it will go toward more positive. Because awareness always helps a person become more positive. Awareness itself is positive. When positive and any negative mental state comes together, the negative mental state will go. It will become weaker. The more awareness becomes stronger, the more negative mental states becomes weaker. And the more of your negative mental states become weaker, the less stress you feel. And the more you feel that when the mind is mindful, calm, you will feel more restful. Because calmness is very restful. So whenever I feel tired, I try to be more mindful. And when I become more mindful, I feel restful. So negative mental state does not give you any rest. It is driving you. So when you want to rest, meditate.
Can we practice meditation without a teacher?
Yes, you can. Many people do.
And the second question is: Is it dangerous?
If you practice it in the wrong way, it is dangerous. But what does wrong way means? And what does right way means? If you understand what meditation is about, you cannot practice it wrongly. Meditation is paying attention. Can you make a mistake paying attention? It’s not creating anything. If you try to create any state, you may make a mistake. So meditation is paying attention. Whatever you feel, you pay attention and it cannot go wrong. You will not make a mistake. But if you try to create some state, maybe you can make a mistake. And if you expect something which is not natural, which is not proper, and with that expectation, if you meditate, it can distort your mind. It can twist your mind. So don’t expect anything. But you can expect one, that is I want to know what is happening in my body or in my mind now. You want to know. That’s the only thing you expect. If you don’t expect anything else, other than wanting to see what is happening in your body or in your mind now and you pay attention, you can never make a mistake and it is not dangerous. But if you want to create any kind of image or if you expect anything, that expectation itself can twist your mind and distort your mind. It can be harmful. I cannot go into detail. Because more questions and not enough time.
Well, it’s already 9:30. Time flies so fast. I can’t believe it. Well, I want to go on answering the questions. How to do that? Well, there will be a Dhamma talk on Sunday. And I hope to answer some more questions on Sunday. But I know that there will be more questions and there won’t be enough time. Always… It’s time, it is the problem. Not enough time is the problem.
It’s very nice to see you today, here, and answer your questions. According to the Teaching of the Buddha and also which is the truth, the saṃsāra is very long. We have lived many, many lives, innumerable lives. And Buddha said there isn’t anybody who has not been your father or your mother or your brother or your sister. So thinking of that, I want to say that all of you are my brothers and my sisters. And we are here because of the Dhamma. I like talking about Dhamma. And you like listening to Dhamma. Therefore, we are here together. We have the same values, and it’s really wonderful. It’s really wonderful feeling to be here together and to talk about Dhamma, to listen to the Dhamma. And I want to share more of my experience, of what I’ve learned. And I also want to hear what you have learned. Because we can learn from each other. You can share your experiences and I can learn from you too. So I’ve shared some of my experiences, and I’m very glad that you have given me that opportunity, to share my knowledge and my experience. And for that I feel very happy. Therefore, thank you.
Thank you very much for your valuable Teachings. Brothers and sisters. Sayadaw will be here in Singapore until next Friday, 28th June. This coming Sunday, at 7 p.m., here in this temple, he’ll be giving another talk on the Mangala Sutta. So please come. As for the other days, if you have any questions, you can pay a visit to Sayadaw at this address. If you’re interested in, please write it down. Block 101, Bukit Batok, West Avenue, … And please go after 5 p.m. Call first before you go. The telephone number is 66650243. That’s about all. And this coming Sunday, our morning service will be led by Brother Sebastian Wong of Callalli Temple. So if you’re interested, please come as well. Thank you.
Viet Hung | A Happiness pursuer | Author of The Happiness Journal, Tản mạn về Hạnh phúc and NGẪM CAFÉ
Sách tôi dịch: Thiền cho người mới bắt đầu, Nổi loạn và tự do, Bài chú giải Kinh Mangala Sutta, Sức mạnh của sự hoài nghi và thiền chánh niệm (Vipassana), Những nguyên lý để sống hạnh phúc, Chúng ta đang sống vì điều gì?
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