Question and Answer and Dhamma Discussion
with Overseas Disciple from USA
QUESTION : Sayadaw, how should we contemplate on if we experience pain during meditation? Should we contemplate on the pain as 'to be experienced-only'?
Sayadaw : The pain is to be experienced-only and not to be taken as reality ... you need to understand and contemplate on in this way. If not, you will be suffering from the pain and take the pain as if it is meant for feeling (suffering).
If the sensation is good, you will feel good but if the sensation is bad, you will feel frustrated. In order to avoid this, you have to keep on understanding the truth of just to be experienced only and not to take the pain as reality.
Human mind can do only one thing at a time. Human mind can focus only on one thing at a time. By trying to understand and contemplate on the truth and consider the pain as just to be experienced-only, you will be able to abandon placing central emphasis on pain as reality.
By nature, the degree of physical pain could either go up or down, severe or weak, etc as it is beyond one's control. In order not to place central emphasis on this nature, it is important for you to remember and contemplate on the truth of 'to be experience-only and not to centre your attention on the pain'.
You need to train your mind to do non-routine actions or works like this. By doing so, your mind will stop focusing on usual and routine actions.
Don't Forget The Truth
To use only ... To experience only ... To do only ... To know only
QUESTION : If this is the case, should we contemplate on as 'things got destroyed just because their time is up and things got created just because their time is up'?
Sayadaw : Contemplating on this way is not complete and conclusive. It is also weak in truth as the content percentage of truth in this statement is small. Superficially, the statement seems correct but it is not a complete and conclusive understanding. 'Just to experience only' is an ultimate truth. The pain is to be experienced only. You should not place central emphasis on pain as the truth.
'To be experienced only' is non-rejection.
'Not to place central emphasis on it' is non-attachment.
Not only the pain that you experience during meditation, but also for all kinds of pains, sufferings and happenings due to kamma actions (kammic efforts), you always need to understand the truth of 'experience-only and not to take them as reality'.
As long as you understand and contemplate on the truth, your actions can be considered as 'you are using the truth in a right way' and 'experiencing and enduring all the pains and sufferings in a right way'. It is called 'changing the direction or actions of your mind'.
Traditionally people associate all the good and bad feelings with 'I' ... 'this is good', 'this is bad', 'pain', 'ache', 'suffering', 'increasing', 'decreasing', etc. Mind is always working along those traditional believes because it has been trained to do so over the years. Hence, in order to abandon mind from doing traditional actions and dissociate mind from those actions, you always need to remember the truth of 'experiencing only and not to take your actions as reality'.
By nature, human mind is capable of doing multiple actions. Your duty is to abandon multi-tasking of your mind but keep on doing single most important task of 'abandoning' those multi-tasking of your mind.
Depending on the severity of the pain, your mind will automatically be focusing on the pain and enduring the pain. In order to abandon the habit of your mind, e.g. automatically focusing and enduring the pain, you continuously need to remember the truth of 'experiencing-only and not to take the pain as reality'.
In other words, you must always remember the truth of 'abandoning and not to take the pain as reality' in your mind.
'Abandoning' means to abandon all kinds of created actions and actions which we always place central emphasis on, e.g. pain, noise (sound), sight, taste, etc. Your duty is to abandon placing central emphasis on those habitual created actions and keep on doing non-habitual action of 'abandoning' continuously.
Do by abandoning ..... Do with abandoning ..... Do to abandon.
QUESTION : You always remind people to 'do Good Deeds continuously'. In my personal point of view, Good Deeds means dana, sila and bhavana. Out of these three, bhavana, which we traditionally understand is - to keep your body in correct posture during meditation, observe our breathing closely (concentrate on your nostril), etc.
In your point of view, what really is the action during meditation and how to contemplate on? Please kindly explain .....
Sayadaw : As far as practicing meditation is concerned, the traditional understanding of most of the meditators (yogis) are not so correct because they traditionally understand meditation as 'doing'. In truth and reality, practicing meditation means 'abandoning', to abandon all your created actions and do the single most important action of 'abandoning'.
Traditionally, we are taught to 'do' something during meditation. This is the reason why most of the meditators always try to do something during meditation. Moreover, we traditionally believe that result can be achieved by doing or working hard, so we naturally try to do something to achieve desired result.
The real meditation is 'abandoning', doing nothing but 'abandoning', abandon placing central emphasis on living and non-living things (beings).
Traditionally we use living and non-living beings with grasping such as use living beings as my relatives, my family, my race (ethnic group or nationality), etc with the mind action of centering and attachment. In reality, the ability that can use living and non-living things as abandoning purpose is a real and genuine 'dana'.
If you do not do 'dana', you will use living and non-living things with grasping, you will resort to all sorts of methods and approach to earn money, you will use all sorts of ways and means to widen up your circle of friends and connections, you will take living beings with the mind action of grasping, etc. This kind of understanding is not correct.
Doing real Good Deeds means abandoning the grasping.
Traditionally we understand kaya kamma (physical actions), vaci kamma (oral actions) and mano actions (mental actions) as 'actions to do'. Due to this understanding, even during meditation, we automatically center our attention on 'doing this, doing that', 'saying right things and trying not to say wrong things', etc. Those actions are called observing sila in a traditional way.
The real and genuine sila is 'abandoning' ..... abandoning power to all physical and oral (verbal) actions.
We normally do not know how to use living and non-living beings for abandoning purpose. This is the reason why we always use them for grasping purpose.
As far as kaya kamma (physical actions) and vaci kamma (oral actions) are concerned, we tend to do all sorts of actions (activities) up to our limits, we tend to say whatever we can say or whatever we wish to say, we tend to do everything until there is nothing which we do not know how to do, we tend to learn everything until there is nothing left for us to learn .... those are the norms of human beings.
The real sila is to try to 'abandon' all those created physical and oral actions without placing central emphasis on doing or not-doing. Real sila emphasises only on the power of abandoning. As long as you carry out your actions with the power of abandoning in mind, there is no problem. But the problem is that we tend to do things without the power of abandoning in mind. That is the reason why we cannot live without doing anything, saying anything, etc. By doing so, in long term, some might develop signs of mental disorders.
Dana, which we traditionally understand is also 'doing something'. Human beings possess ability to do donations but unable to abandon the mind action of grasping on living and non-living beings along the way. This is the reason why we always need to work so hard to earn money in order to do good deeds.
Ability that can use living and non-living things as abandoning purpose.
Abandoning power to all physical and oral actions.
Abandoning power to all mental actions.
Abandoning power to any attachment concerning with physical, oral and mental actions.
To be continued ...