The Practice of Detachment
Teaching of ThaBarWa Sayadaw U Ottamasara
Questions and Answers with foreign yogis
Part - One
Here we emphasize detachment. Detachment concerning your actions.
You can pay attention to breathing, to the rising and falling of the abdomen, but you must not pay attention to your action and to what you are doing. This is the practice of detachment.
Breathing is also to use-only, not to reject, not to attach. Rising and falling is also to use-only, not to reject, not to attach.
The aim of practicing meditation is to be free from attachment, not to know about breathing or about rising and falling. That is easy, every meditator can do that. But to be free from attachment is the essence of meditation.
Q1 : When the mind knows about attachment, how to let go of attachment?
Venerable Ottamasara : You must abandon your habit. You might take care of your health, you might take care of your family; that is your attachment.
You must be able to abandon your habit. You can take care of yourself but you must be able to abandon that action. You can take care of yourself. You must also practice not to take care of yourself.
Not daring to abandon the action is attachment. To be free from attachment you must be mindful to whatever appears in the mind and body and you must be able to be mindful to each of your physical, verbal and mental actions.
Besides you must be able not to pay attention to what you are doing now. You must be able not to pay attention to what is happening in your body and mind.
Q2 : Should we be natural or try to be mindful all the time
Venerable Ottamasara : You must be mindful but you must not pay attention to the action of mindfulness. If you are paying attention to your action of mindfulness it means you are grasping your action as “yours.” The Truth is: not “mine,” not “yours,” no “me,” no “you,” just Ever New Impermanent Nature. You can understand the Truth but you also must try to obey the Truth.
Q3 : So when I start practicing what should I do? Pay attention to rising-falling?
Venerable Ottamasara : What you do is not important. Where you are staying is not important.
Q4 : I used to practice Anapanassati or observing the feelings…I don’t know what we are doing here?
Venerable Ottamasara : That is attachment. You cannot stop paying attention to what you are doing and to what other yogis are doing. This is attachment. You must be mindful without attachment, without paying attention to your action.
(Sayalay: every method we use, we start to be attached to the method. Sayadaw can teach you how to detach from the method. So we practice to detach and not to become attached to the practice.)
Q5 : What about walking meditation?
Venerable Ottamasara : You must understand : walking, sitting, standing and lying, all are to do-only. Not to reject, not to attach. If you are thinking about walking, sitting, lying, this is attachment. Attachment for something or someone.
Walking, standing, sitting is concerning everyone, not only you. It is concerning everyone; nearly everyone can do it but no person is standing, no person is walking, no one is walking, no one is sitting, only cause and effect. Sitting, walking, standing and lying are the powers of Impermanent Nature. No one is making the action.
With this right understanding you must try to detach from yourself and from your actions. Now you can walk with attachment, you can sit with attachment. You cannot walk without attachment, you cannot sit without attachment. This problem concerns most of the meditators. You cannot solve this problem. You cannot detach from the action of sitting, walking, lying, standing.
All the actions are to do-only, to experience-only, to know-only, not to pay attention to them. Now you pay attention to the action of sitting, walking. That is attachment. Attachment concerns your mind.
Q6 : So we should be natural? Natural and mindful?
Venerable Ottamasara : Should be doing-only, knowing-only, experiencing-only, and using-only. There is someone or something behind your actions. This is attachment. You must detach from your action. You must be able to detach from something or someone, which is behind your action. If you meditate, someone is behind your actions. If you walk, someone is behind your action. That someone is not true, just wrong view, wrong understanding. Wrong understanding is controlling your action. You must be able to detach from that wrong understanding. You must not pay attention to the practice of
meditation. You must not pay attention to the yogis or meditators. You must pay attention to do-only, to use-only, to know-only and to experience-only. This is the Truth. You must pay attention to the Truth of doing-only, using-only, experiencing-only and knowing- only. You can walk, you can sit, and you can lie, but don’t forget the Truth of doing-only. No one is doing, not your action.
To be continued .....