Below is the above edited outline short notes for sharing by all.
Brother Teoh’s Thursday class dated 23rd May 2019 outline Short Notes
A. 1st session – Meditation
1. When you understand the Buddha’s teaching, you will have strong faith in him. This spiritual faculty of Saddha will arise the viriya (spiritual zeal) to drive you to cultivate sati. When the resulting Sati is stabilized it cumulates into Samadhi(a collected and unwavering free mind). This, will enable you to see things as they are leading to wisdom. These 5 spiritual faculties can help you overcomethe 5 mental hindrances (of sensual desire, ill will, restlessness, sloth/torpor and doubt) to enable you to meditate. Without the mental hindrances the mind will settle down into the meditative state of inner peace and inner awareness easily.
2. With the 5 spiritual faculties established, you can easily relax and maintain silent inner awareness to develop the meditation. Sati will be established leading to Samadhi right away. There is awareness of your heartbeat, mental activities as well as the contact of body and mind. You can see dependent origination clearly. Due to ignorance, sankhara (mental thinking) arises therebycreating contact with the brain to trigger off the mental consciousness with itscontent arise from memories, to condition your like/dislikes and emotional negativity.
3. For those without the 5 spiritual faculties to establish mindfulness, you need todecondition the heedless thinking by using the mind-sweeping methodcombine with metta. Then stabilize the sati with anapanasati.
B. 2nd session – Discussion topic: Understanding Life, Its purpose and meaning
4. If you don’t understand life you cannot live life and you cannot discuss its purpose and meaning. So understanding life is very important.
5. All of us need to confront the challenges of life especially the 1st Noble truth’s8 realities of confronting old age, sickness, death and separation from loved ones etc. with wisdom. We also need to have self-knowledge to know who are you and what are you? If you don’t even know who are you and what are youthen who is living your life? It you are deluded and heedless without awareness then the thoughts are living your life most of the time. It is important for us to understand life to live life well.
6. As Buddhists we are indeed very blessed to have Shakyamuni Buddha’steachings to explain to us the deep meaning of life. The essence of his teaching is the 4 noble truths and this 4 noble truths, summary to us all of life (both the mundane and supra mundane). It also reveal to us the secret of life.
7. The 1st noble truth explains to us the prevalence of dukkha or suffering and it highlight to us the 8 realities of life and existence. All of your suffering, sorrow and misery come from confronting these 8 realities without the requisitewisdom. The 8 realities are: 1) Birth; 2) Old age; 3) Sickness; 4) Death; 5) Separation from loved ones or our prized possession, 6) When you’re with people whom you don’t like; 7) When things don’t go your way, when your expectation in life are not met and when you cannot get what you want; and lastly 8) the 5 grasping aggregates (conditioned by one’s self-delusion) are dukkha. When you meditate with the silent mind, you will understand that this 5 aggregates of form and mind is dependent originating and impermanenthence it is not you. This body and mind is just a karmically conditioned ‘vehicleand tool’ for us to come to this existential world to live and experience life. With this understanding you can live life with good understanding.
8. When you grasp and attach to your physical body you suffer because you will worry about it getting old, sick and one day die. If you cling to feeling, whether pleasant or unpleasant feelings, you will also suffer because feeling is dependent originating hence it is impermanent and not a permanent unchanging entity which you can cling onto and grasp onto as the ‘I’ and the ‘Me’. The same goes with all your perception, sankhara (activities of mind) and consciousness. Reason why the Buddha said, ‘the 5 grasping aggregates are suffering’.
9. The 2nd noble truth explains the cause of arising of suffering. It is self-delusion that conditions craving that cause you to grasp and cling. Investigate further: If I grasp, cling and attach to form and feeling, all that I perceive and my mind states, views and opinions, do I suffer? Without dharma wisdom, you definitely suffer.
10. The 3rd noble truth explains that suffering need not be if you have with good understanding of Buddha’s teaching. Enlightenment in the here and now is possible. You know how to live life and are free from the 1st noble truth’s 8 realities. You cannot be deceived by the phenomenal world and the 5 aggregates of form and mind anymore. Instead you can live life to the fullest, with joy, understanding and love as an enlightened being.
11. The 4th noble truth explains that if you cultivate this noble eightfold path, it will lead to the end of all suffering i.e. enlightenment in the here and now.
12. Utu Niyama (nature’s physical order), Bija Niyama (nature’s biological order), Kamma Niyama (law of Kamma/Moral causation), Citta Niyama and Dhamma Niyama are the 5 nature’s universal orders that governs all of life and existence. The first 2 are scientific laws of nature and the last 3 are spiritual laws of nature. Understanding these laws constituent right views leading to wisdom. This will enable us to understand life.
13. Life is our greatest teacher. Nature has great compassion. We learn from lifethrough observing nature. The nature’s law of karma says, you reap what you sow and if you plant the seed of wholesomeness, you will reap the fruit of wholesomeness. Master Hsuen Hua also said, whatever causes you plant will give rise to its fruition when there are conditions for their arising. He thus warned, ‘please do not plant the wrong seed and reap the wrong fruit’. So to have the good life we have to take care of karma via following the advice of the Buddha.
14. From the spiritual point of view, your sole purpose in life is to develop such understanding via following the advice of the Buddha to avoid all evil, do goodand purify your mind, to live the good life with wisdom and to always plant wholesome conditions.
15. You must have Dutiful conduct – do your duty in accordance with these laws of nature especially the law of karma. Be responsible in life. As spouse, as children, as siblings, as parents, as employee/employer, do your duties well. Even towards the environment. If you neglect your duties, in future you will reap what you sow. Right duty is right dhamma. You must also have Right conduct,good conduct and wise conduct after following the advice of the Buddha to cultivate wholesomeness to build up your karmic nature, so that when you choose to come or have come to, you will have the good Karmic support. Develop wisdom, you won’t suffer, life becomes meaningful and beautiful. Live the noble life of an enlightened being who is free of fear and suffering. You are always peaceful, happy and tranquil. Heart Sutra – ‘true emptiness is wonderful existence.
16. In the year 1971, Brother Teoh (17 years old) reflected on these questions, “Who Am I?” in this vast universe and why am I here? What is the purpose of life? He received the answer from deep within his nature – ‘that he cannot understand all these unless he meditated’. This probe was due to his past vowsand cultivation.
17. The Meaning and purpose of life can be established after you understand life.You must also understand who are you? What the 5 aggregates of form and mind is? Is it really you? If not, then who are you? It is important to understand who you are? In order to know who is living your life. Usually it is your thought that is living your life. The thought is egoic, deluded and full of craving. Thisdeluded thought cannot live life. You need to contemplate and develop understanding of your true mind, to be aware, to see clearly who you are? Investigate into what the Buddha says. That the 5 aggregates is impermanentand if you cling onto it, you suffer. As it is impermanent, you cannot cling on to it, to say this is ‘me’ and all these are ‘mine’. As you break free from self-delusion, your attachment to form and mind loses its grip and is relinquished.You understand the body and mind is NOT you but is related to you karma wise. To use the form and mind and yet not be deceived by it is wisdom. To realize the unconditioned dharma to develop the wisdom to live life is very important.
18. Conditioned dharma has its own reality. It recognizes relationship, right duty, wholesomeness and unwholesomeness and the 4 noble truths etc. But in true emptiness (the unconditioned), there is no old age, sickness, death, no 4 noble truths, no suffering, no attainment, etc. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. The Conditioned and Unconditioned dharma exist side by side. You need to understand both of them to live the good life.
19. To be able to apply Buddha’s teaching is most important. Develop the dharma understanding and cultivate to transform both your karmic and spiritualnatures. To become a beautiful living being (personality and character wise) and be a blessing to all. Be determined to cultivate it, take vow, plant the Bodhi seed, nurtures it beautifully so that this Bodhi mind will continue to arise life after life to support your cultivation.
20. Karmic nature surely brings you to the world i.e. karma decides. Regarding thespiritual nature you have to connect to your true nature first before you can inherit from it. Thus it is important to have the vows and aspirations to enable you to connect with your true nature and the Bodhi mind to propel you forward to receive the teaching so that you are always on the right track. Faith in the dharma is vital.
21. When Brother Teoh’s nature comes to this world, he just accords and flows with understanding, to allow conditions to arise by itself. Brother Teoh shared that by attending his dharma classes, the merits and parami accrued can be very immense and powerful. It is rare indeed to have the condition to listen to thetrue dharma thus cherish and treasure it. In that sense you all are very blessedto be part of the kalyanamitta family. You all must have your past cultivationsand affinity.
22. After straightening your views with initial wisdom, you are less reactive, more aware and mindful. There is more space between thoughts. You are calm, peaceful and your mind seldom stirs. This is sati sampajanna. Once you hit this, you are home. With this sati sampajanna cultivated only you can have sense restraint to enable you to cultivate the 4 right efforts, keep precepts and arise the 3 way of right conducts. By then you are at least a Sotapanna or a skadagami. You can then cultivate the 4 foundation of mindfulness. Then the 7 factors of enlightenment keeps on arising, you are on the right path – enlightenment in the here and the now (Nibanna) can happen. All these 10 cultivation steps as stated in the Avijja sutta is not difficult. The path and fruition keeps on arising. When connected to your true nature, you can breeze through the cultivation very fast, continuing from your past life cultivation after that.
(Above outline short notes draft is by Sister Angie Chong)