SEEING THE MIND

Ven. Luang Por Putt

(Translated by Brigitte Schrottenbacher)

First we note “Buddho, Buddho”. If thinking arises we know we are thinking and bring the mind back to “Buddho”. Sometimes we can see our thoughts - that's alright, we can think - but we should always know about it. If we do not want to use a mantra, finding it disturbing, then we only know the thinking.

When we sit in meditation it naturally happens that thoughts come up. We know them, let go of them and stay with the empty mind. This will happen again and again we just know there is thinking and we know if there is no thinking.

The mantra “Buddho” is thinking, noticing the rising and falling of the abdomen while breathing is thinking. These are thoughts we want to think. Sometimes we think without wanting to think. If we apply mindfulness then the value will be the same.

Some new meditators who do not have much experience yet might be too attached to the kind of meditation practice they are doing. It might happen that we become very calm and we think we shouldn't be that calm but the mind enters samadhi (calmness) - it's as if there is something pulling it into it. At other times we would like to have a calm mind but we are thinking and thinking, maybe all night long. So, what we have to do is train our mindfulness. Thoughts arise, we know there is thinking, we do not support those thoughts - we do not try to influence them by trying to bring them into this or that direction, we only know them and let them go by themselves.

We know and know and if mindfulness and contemplation becomes stronger, we can see the mind in its three functions. First: it thinks without end; second: it sees the thinking; third: it comes back to the state of non-thinking or emptiness - that means it comes back to the body. The body is still there, thoughts come and go and mindfulness knows about them - calmness comes and goes - and we know. All of this happens. Thinking is vitakka, mindfulness which knows is vicara. If vitakka and vicara are present, then insight into the Dhamma arises.

The rising and falling, coming and going in the mind is Dhamma. The mind knows, mindfulness knows and slowly concentration (samadhi) is getting better. Mindfulness becomes stronger, joy (piti) arises. When piti arises it will be accompanied by happiness (sukha). We see the mind is thinking and there is piti and sukha - we can let it go on like that.

Then it might happen that thinking stops and there is a bright mind full of light, rapture and bliss (sukha). The mind becomes more and more refined and even piti and sukha will disappear. Only one-pointedness and equanimity will be left. Bodily feelings, joy and happiness will be completely gone.

If we sit here now, we know there are pleasant feelings, pain, suffering and restlessness because there is still the body. If the mind becomes more refined and enters samadhi, then the body disappears and all those disturbances cannot happen anymore. The base for their appearance - the body - has disappeared. If the body is still there, piti, sukha, vitakka and vicara arise when we concentrate the mind. When the mind enters samadhi and becomes refined until the body disappears and there is only the bright radiant mind left - then the mind is on the “Samatha Way”. The mind is full of light, radiant and bright, it seems as if it is floating in space. This we call “the mind having space as its base (arammana)”. When this happens, there are two things: bright light and complete freedom from thoughts - there seems to be nothing.

Some meditators think that the mind on the “Samatha Way” doesn't have any knowledge. Up to that point the mind went through a lot of Dhamma-knowledge - seeing and knowing the body, impermanence, suffering and non-self and many more things. At this point the mind enters the peaceful state of samatha - jhana. Body and self (atta) disappear and only a bright, floating mind is left.

Sometimes the mind sends rays of light to the outside world. The meditator sees all kind of things like mountains, rivers, ghosts, animals, humans and many more things which exist in the universe. But the mind is no more self, it floats in space as the sun does. From time to time its rays lighten up things in the universe. One should not think that the mind doesn't know anything in this state. The knowledge happening in this state simply does not judge or name anything (sammuti). It sees the world but does not call it a world; it sees living beings but does not name them. When the Buddha's mind reached this state He attained the knowledge of reviewing His and others' past existences (pubbenivasanussati-ñana). So, no one should say that a mind on the “Samatha Way” doesn't have any knowledge. There is no reason to fear that the mind has entered this way.

We practice to gain knowledge through our mind. If the mind becomes one, then we have to take care that it doesn't get attached. One has to determine to let go of things. If this determination isn't strong, we won't be able to let go. Only a strong determination can change the mind to work correctly. Letting go will become an automatic function of the mind.

Morality, mind and wisdom have to do their duty. If these three factors do their duty correct, then they build together one power called sativinayo. This sativinayo should be the leading power. The Buddha taught that carelessness or the absence of mindfulness is the cause for unwholesome (akusala) kamma to arise. Mindfulness leads us to accomplish wholesome (kusala) kamma. So, if we develop concentration (samadhi), attain to the state of absorption (jhana) and insight knowledge (ñana) - we gain this through mindfulness (sati). No problem will arise in our meditation, if we understand that we have to develop right mindfulness.

What now is wrong view (micchaditthi) and what is right view (sammaditthi)? It's not necessary to think much about this. There is a simple way to prove this. Everything we know and are able to let go of, so that no attachment, no conflicts and no problems arise in our mind - this is sammaditthi. Everything leading to attachment, self-belief, problems and conflicts - like trying to use one's knowledge to look into other people's mind and wanting to solve their problems and even blame them - all these are micchaditthi. It leads to unwholesome kamma for oneself. In short, we know and let go - that's right view.

If knowledge arises and we get attached, wanting to know - what is that...? Why is it so...? - Then we can know its defilements asking. If those questions arise - let go of them and do not care further about them. Know that it's a habit of the mind which we cultivated for a long time, this “wanting to know”. If we really want to know, we should watch with mindfulness, without thinking. We know what arises and we know what ceases - we only know. Let go of wanting to see, wanting to know. Things come and go in the mind, do not try to sort out all these things. If mindfulness is strong, it will be able to know what things are about.

Sometimes it might happen that we sit down to meditate and because we want to develop wisdom, we think - this is impermanence, this is suffering, this shows non-self - but the mind quickly becomes calm and there is only calmness left. If there is knowledge arising, or seeing, or calmness, mindfulness or deep insight - all of these are results of our practice, we cannot influence this. The only thing we can do is set up the right causes. We support the arising of knowledge and insight. We do this in three ways: first - we determine to be mindful, the mind knows, mindfulness knows; second - we determine to think or consider, for example a physician uses the knowledge he studied to consider an object, this we call vicara; third - if thinking arises, we allow the mind to think but we use mindfulness to know all the time.

If one practices meditation like that, then there will be progress!