Complete audio of the talk can be downloaded : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/uploads/2-The-Path-to-Truth-For-the-Modern-Day-Bodhisattva-Practitioner-190922….
Complete audio of the talk can be downloaded : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/uploads/Teoh-Thu-190919.mp3 Short Notes pdf : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/up…
Complete audio of the talk can be downloaded : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/uploads/Teoh-Tue-190917.mp3 Whiteboard Note : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/up…
Brother Teoh’s Sep 17th 2019 Tuesday Class Outline Short Notes
Reporting of retreat experience by yogis who attended the 10-day retreat at Wat Marp Jam, Rayong, Thailand
1. Bro Song has finished his sharing in the previous week. So have Chin How, Adeline and PG on the previous Sunday class. Sister Yoon Chun gave a brief account of their stay there, which differed from her previous visits, as this time around there are various English-speaking monastics around to share their experiences and Mae chee Amy was there to facilitate & make their daily chores more interesting, especially for the ladies.
2. During the stay there, Ajahm Anan advised his monks why he wants them to do their daily chores mindfully and with understanding. It is for them to develop sati sampajanna while in the midst of life.
Bro Teoh concurred with his advice and added as follows: Chores can develop real meditation if done with understanding. Right duty is Right Dharma. We have a duty towards the Law of Nature. We should perform our duties with right understanding, wholesomeness and mindfulness. In this way we can be ever mindful and constantly meditative leading to heedfulness. When we no longer complain, the 3 Evil Roots can be rooted out. Otherwise our mundane mind will give arise to comparison, leading to duality and cause division leading to un necessary conflict, misunderstanding and argument.
3. Reporting on her practice, she said, on one occasion she was disturbed by a negative unwholesome thought until she resolved the matter. This thought interfered with her meditation and she was affected by it. She can’t meditate because this is a clinging thought that conditioned her unhappiness and anxiety. She clings to her this unresolved problem.
Bro Teoh advised that the thought surfaced due to her un-mindfulness and lack of initial wisdom
when the matter arose. Her inquiry should be why this thought? She should just Silent your mind to
find out, to see clearly the birth and formation of such thought. To understand how Grasping and
Clinging had occurred leading to the arising of such thought. She should have immediately reflected
And contemplated on the cause of this thought appearing, not others, to realize the attachment borne of wrong view via not able to accept the reality of the moment (or what happened within the moment). Reflect and inquire via the second turning of the 4 Noble Truths to arise the wisdom and understanding to free the mind with wisdom.
4. Once there is Clinging and Grasping, the so called problem (or accumulated phobia) will be difficult to remove unless with wisdom or temporarily through a dream (via subconscious release).
As quoted by J. Krishnamurthi: The mind must have Order. Otherwise the trapped or accumulated phobias, fear and anxiety (borne of attachment) will cause disorder in the brain. A dream cannot permanently dislodge it altogether as without wisdom the same dream will recur. Attachment is holding it inside with unhappiness borne of fear, worry and anxiety. Eventually, it can cause depression with suicidal thought tendencies. When the mind is silent, it will see the birth and formation of such thoughts due to attachment and then with this understanding (borne of the 2nd turning contemplation), develop the understanding ‘to accept the reality of the moment via seeing things as they are’ as taught by the Buddha to release them. Then the dreams will not appear. According to the 2nd Noble Truth Craving leading to Clinging and grasping will entail suffering.
5. Next, Han reported that she was able to experience stillness and calmness during her stay there. She could feel the oneness with Nature and could easily switch between her chores and sitting meditation.
6. Bro Teoh cautioned her to check and make sure her above ability is developed via a Free Mind and not a conditioned state of calmness borne of Samatha meditation because she used to have that tendency in the past. The free Mind (with understanding) can quieten down and be completely relaxed, tranquil and still with no thoughts. This mind state does not rely on Samatha concentration to develop it. In this state, the mind is always aware with specific phenomenon awareness and have no Dwelling. Then wisdom can arise via seeing things as they are, to give rise to Equanimity or the upekkha enlightenment factor which is borne of wisdom. Mindfulness and the Silence, must be very stable to see them.
7. Bro Teoh further advised that we should maintain continuity of whatever mindfulness and inner awareness, we have developed in the retreat until the mind enters sati. We must determine to be aware throughout the day. Also develop Yoniso Manasikara via the 1st and 2nd turning wisdom (through constantly listening,reflection, contemplation and inquiry into dharma). Then our minds will not stir with likes and dislikes. Having no more mental chattering and verbalization the mind will become very quiet and still (on its on borne of wisdom). This free mind state (borne of wisdom) will help us realise passaddhi (the tranquillity and stillness of mind) leading to our ability to realise truth/reality via the direct seeing (to see things as they are). When our mind enters sati all our seeing, hearing, etc. will be in sati. Then all our movements (physical and mental) and nature’s phenomena will appear to be like flowing in slow motion (like in a continuous flow). Everything is connected and like magnified. Then we will transform.
8. Tammy requested for Bro Teoh’s further elaboration on the 2 aspects of the 5 Aggregates of form and mind.
Bro Teoh: The 1st aspect is as a human being and the 2nd aspect is as the 5 Mental aggregates of form and mind which arises when the Perception aggregate brings the external form into the mind. Bro Teoh further explained that the 4th link of the 12 Links of paticca samuppada which is the Nama Rupa (the thought) link, is the 2nd aspect of the 5 aggregates of form and mind. It is the Mental consciousness (pure consciousness with its content) which arises upon contact of mind with the 6 respective Sense Organs. Contact conditions feelings to arise then without wisdom (yoniso manasikara) it will condition or causes craving (followed by the other links of grasping/clinging, becoming and birth leading to the whole mass of suffering) to arise. All these links can be clearly seen or observed when we have the stability of Sati (daily mindfulness) in pure awareness. With this understanding and sensitivity and stability of mindfulness, the link will stop at Feeling, and feeling will remain as pure feeling without conditioning craving. Hence no more stirring of mind with likes and dislikes to arise the mental hindrances of sensual desire and ill-will. Without attaining this quality of mind and understanding, most people went through all the links to experience Birth (transgression) leading to suffering without seeing the links in between. These movements are so fast, without the requisite wisdom and a very stable sati one cannot cope with sense experiences arising in daily life.
(Draft for above short notes was prepared by sister Yoon Chun)
With metta always,
Complete audio of the talk can be downloaded : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/uploads/Teoh-Thu-190912.mp3 Short Notes pdf : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/up…
Complete audio of the talk can be downloaded : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/uploads/Teoh-Tue-190910.mp3 Whiteboard Note : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/up…
Outline short notes for Bro Teoh’s Sunday class dated 8 September 2019 Lesson 1: ‘The Path to Truth for the Modern-day Bodhisattva Practitioner’ by Master Shih Cheng Yen.
- Brother Teoh introduced and explained the reason and significance for using the above new reference book. It is mainly to develop the understanding of how the various Buddhist traditions with their unique specialty of understanding had contributed to world peace and help transformedour world for the better. To do this work, we need to train more Bodhisattvas with the proper understanding to do this work. These are Modern-day Bodhisattvas who live among fellow living beings and integrate with society to be a blessing to all.
- Blessings that we received are not due to luck but mainly due to our virtues borne of wisdom because without wisdom, there is no real virtue.
- Our Taiwan spiritual trip in 2014 led by Brother Teoh visited 4 great Buddhist traditions/organizations, each with their own specialty of understanding. Fo Guang Shan excels in Buddhist education, Tzu Chi emphasizes compassion in action, Fa Gu Shan focuses on meditation and Zhong Tai Chan Shi advocates planting the seed of Bodhi to walk the Bodhisattva way.
- Each and every Bodhisattva is different and they have their own ways. Brother Teoh’s mission this life is to share the special unique Truth that his nature had understood to help Bodhisattvas progress faster along the path of dharma.
- We need to aspire to have certain understanding of some of the important essential Dharma whenever we choose to come or have to come to this world, if not we will be wasting a lot of our time trying to develop such understanding every time we come to this mundane world.
- Whatever we had cultivated will be stored up in our spiritual and karmic Natures. The wisdom, merits and blessings that we have cultivated, can help us in our cultivation if we know how to make use of them through invoking the power of merits and blessing for us to progress successfully along the path of dharma.
- Among all the different schools of Buddhism, the common ground is the Four Noble Truths, although the emphasis is different. All subsequent teachings originate from this Four Noble Truths.
- There is a discussion on “Why all Samma SamBuddha choose to realize Buddhahood in the human realm?” (Please refer to the audio/video recording for the details).
- A good and virtuous mind is enough to do wholesomeness. There is no need to insist on having money to do or perform wholesomeness. When we radiate love (metta), have wholesome thoughts, cultivate the four right efforts, meditate, being mindful and heedful, we can perform all the 10 meritorious deeds, including rejoicing and providing service etc. to help promote dharma activities and cultivation; these are wholesomeness that can be done without having to spend any money.
- Sharing by Kalynamittas who return from their recent 10-days retreat at Ajahn Anan’s forest monastery (WMJ) in Rayong, Thailand:
- Brother Chin How shared his experience of how his nature let him understand the deep meaning of 不求 (bu jiu) – not seeking and 无求 (wu jiu) – no seeking, leading to the realization of peace when the mind is no longer seeking. He also shared how he understand conditions to do wholesomeness (the feeding the fish experience). When there is no craving or expectation to do it, then something unexpected can just happen. When we have the dharma and the parami, things will fall into place naturally and if they are meant to be it will manifest beautifully.
- Sister Adeline shared her experience on the importance of having this constant reflection and contemplation of dharma with a stable daily mindfulness to be sensitive to enable her to realize that she was suffering due to her complaining mind on the duties that yogis have to perform versus her wish to have more time to meditate. These are wrong thoughts as taught by Bro Teoh: ‘whenever you are not peaceful and unhappy, the evil roots are there’. She also shared her experience of how she was able to develop deeper understanding of the cultivation through refinement or fine-tuning of her cultivation while there.
- Sister PG shared her experience of adjusting to meal times and having expectation while at the Guan Yin hall due to stories she heard previously. She also share how she was able to have very peaceful and good sleep (without thought) while there, despite being there for the first time. Normally she can’t sleep well at new places.
(Please listen to the audio/video recording for details).
- Brother Teoh explained that all their above sharing have a common root cause. That is, when you seek, that seeking is a form of craving. Actually, there is no need to seek (wanting things our way and feels frustrated when it does not turn out in our favour). If things are meant to be, they will happen according to our parami. When we change the way we live life for the better (following the dharma way which is the righteous way), our karmic nature will change for the better too to improve our life.
- We need to be able to see clearly the root cause of our sufferings so that we can free ourselves and be at peace. Enquire deeply on: “Who is unhappy? Who is complaining?” It is the egoic mind with the self-delusion. When we understand, we can just accord and flow with conditions to be at peace at all time.
- When we feel negativities, we have self-delusion. Wrong thoughts are thoughts that condition our greed, craving, anger, hatred, fear, worry and anxiety, etc. and these thoughts with the evil roots made us evil. This is how we can check our cultivation. We must have mindfulness and understanding when these wrong thoughts arise. We must also understand what constitute evil. Because of these negative wrong thoughts, the ego complains.
- Signs of progress are, when we don’t react and complain anymore. When we can have more love, peace within, joy and happiness through our own understanding of the dharma (the essential dharma) as taught by the Buddha. No more seeking.
(Above outline short notes draft was prepared by Sister Mun Yuen)
With metta always,
Complete audio of the talk can be downloaded : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/uploads/Teoh-Thu-190905.mp3 Short Notes pdf : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/up…
Outline Short notes of Thursday class dated 5 September 2019
- Bro Teoh discussed his transcript book: 75th lesson of Sixth Patriarch Platform Sutra (page 37 onwards). Miss Lee’s question gave rise to conditions for Bro Teoh to explain further on the topic ‘Daily mindfulness and understanding cultivation’. Miss Lee asked, ‘according to Bro Teoh meditation began only when one had the silent mind but if the self-nature and the true mind is already in pure seeing, do we still need to meditate from the silent mind?’
- Bro Teoh replied, the way she asked her question showed that she haven’t really understood what Bro Teoh had taught her. Her first question should be, ‘is it true that unless you meditate until you can realize your silent mind, the real meditation hasn’t started?’ That is what I said all these while; not until your daily mindfulness is very stable, you cannot have (or realize) the silent mind. If one is caught in book knowledge and not coming from understanding, such questions will arise. Her 2nd question is, ‘if the mind is already quiet, does one have to stay with the silent mind?’ The silent mind is the meditative mind so why is there any need to stay there? Whatever that arises, the silent mind in pure awareness (which is without thought) can be aware of it clearly. This silent observation can give rise to wisdom and understanding.
- It is only the thought that asks such question. If it is through an understanding, one will know what to do. One just has to keep on developing the training of the mind to be mindful first. Then, stabilize it until it is ever mindful. The stabilizing of mind may take a while unless the five spiritual faculties are already strongly established. So, one just needs to continue with the training. If one still wants to meditate before the spiritual faculties are established, then use the mind-sweeping method coupled with metta to train the mind. To decondition the heedless thinking initially. Then use anapanasati to stabilize the sati.
- The heedless mind needs to be trained until it can enter the meditative state. One can also use anapanasati or any method or technique to anchor the mind. When the mind becomes quiet until even the subtle breathing stops, then the mind can just be aware without any thought. That is the silent mind.
- Whatever technique that is used to stabilize the mind is only an initial skillful mean. Once the mind is trained the awareness will be there, then maintaining this awareness for as long as you can, until the mind enters sati. As long as one has not trained the mind to go into that state during the formal meditation, chances are, it will be very difficult for one to develop the ability to be aware (or ever mindful) in the midst of life.
- When the mind has been trained to be aware without thought, whatever that arises through the six sense doors can be picked up through the stirring of the mundane mind. Awareness can observe all that is arising in the mind and understand how sankhara is being created via one’s views and opinions.
- Bro Teoh asked Miss Lee whether she had trained her mind to be silent and still. If she had not done so, then she must stabilize it first because dharma knowledge and theory cannot help one to arrive at that state. If she had to train her mind or work on the spiritual faculties to stabilize sati, then she had to do it first.
- Even if one does bowing as a skillful means, one must bow until mindfulness sets in. Until the awareness and kaya (the bodily movements) move as one in perfect harmony.
- The mind has to be trained until it is ever mindful and constantly meditative. Not only during formal meditation sessions but also while in the midst of life with sati and all the other spiritual faculties present. However, most meditators can only do that when they slow everything down during the formal practice under retreat condition. Hence, the moment they come out of the retreat they can’t maintain those calm states (heedful state) and realize that they have lost it again and become heedless again while in the midst of life. This shows that most cultivators do not understand what the real meditation is. The ever mindful, constantly meditative (cultivating the Noble 8-fold Path) and steadfast one will realize the unconditioned state of Nibbana.
- Sister Angie asked what happens, if while one is in the constantly meditative mode practicing the Noble 8fold Path but at times, there are lapses in awareness.
- Bro Teoh answered that it is alright and it is not a problem. It does happen especially in the initial stages of cultivation.
Be aware of these lapses in awareness and return to heedfulness as soon as possible. Bro Teoh mentioned that when he was cultivating in the early years, he was able to be fully aware throughout the day, constantly contemplating, reflecting and meditating. Then later he shifted his contemplation and cultivation away from the essential dharma to focus on the cultivation of the Noble 8-fold Path. He had to start reflecting on the 1st path factor of right view with regards to the three spiritual laws of law of karma, law of mind and the law of dharma. (For more detail please do listen to the audio file from 1:01:08 onwards)
- It is important for one to understand the Law of Karma through understanding what constitutes evil and then follow up with the practice of avoiding all evil, cultivating wholesomeness, virtue and meditation. That is the beginning of cultivation. Then cultivate the three turnings of the Four Noble Truths to develop the 3 types of corresponding wisdoms of suttamaya panna, cintamaya panna and bhavanamaya panna. Develop the initial wisdom borne of the 1st and 2nd turnings through constantly listening to the true dharma and constantly contemplating, reflecting and inquiring into them to straighten our views. Then cultivate sati sampajanna (mindfulness and clear comprehension) in daily life until one is ever mindful and constantly meditative. When one can see how the mind reacting, stirring and oscillating between the dualities of sensual desires and ill-will, due to wrong view leading to habitual tendencies, then wisdom will keep on arising. Sati sampajanna will enable the mind to see clearly what is happening at every moment of sense experience. Witnessing all the essential dharma arising and passing away according to the Buddha’s teaching will enable one to understanding the 3 universal characteristics of nature clearly.
- Mindfulness with clear comprehension will protect the mind from going astray and being deceived by the phenomenal world ofconsciousness. Sense restraint will be possible and one cannot break the precepts anymore because the mind does not react through self-delusion anymore. When that happens, one’s thoughts, speech and action are in accordance with Noble 8-fold Path leading to one’s ability to arise the 3 ways of right conduct.
- Right thought is very important. They are all your virtuous thoughts that include the four Brahma Viharas mind states and the accompanying ennoblers of precepts (ennobler of anger is love, ennobler of stealing is generosity, ennobler of lust is contentment, etc.) Such virtuous thoughts can only arise when one has developed some level of wisdom. As the cultivation progresses, one moves from the contemplation of the essential dharma to the contemplation on how to cultivate the Noble 8-fold Path. Wisdom will then keep on arising and the mind will become non-grasping later. When that happens, the egoic mind borne of self-delusion can be rooted out.
- Our karmic nature follows us immediately life after life the moment we are born but for us to inherit from our spiritual nature one has to connect to our true nature first. Otherwise, it is not possible to inherit from the spiritual nature. Bro Teoh was able to do that in the year 1989 when he connects to his true nature to inherit all his past cultivation. Bro Teoh also shared with us that he is now able to share all these higher understandings with us because the kalyanamitta’s consciousness has evolved and many of us can now understand such profound teachings.
- On Page 40 of the 75th lesson of the 6th Patriarch Platform Sutra transcript book, it was mentioned that all experiences acquired (by those who cultivate thought-based meditation) during retreats are conditioned mind states and they won’t bring about true transformation because they are using thought to meditate. The dharma is akaliko (beyond thought and beyond time) so how can the thoughts realize reality or the dharma? Only Awareness or mindfulness which is beyond thought can realize the dharma.
- Even the Jhanas are thought based (one-pointedness) energy field related cultivation that can cause cultivators to keep on chasing for better and better mind/psychic states. The Buddha taught us to realize wisdom to liberate mind which has nothing to do with fantastic meditative mind states. These are defilements of insight causing one to attach and cling leading to suffering. It is more important to cultivate correctly, the wisdom to awaken so that one is not deceived by our sense perceptions and the phenomenal world.
- Back to Miss Lee’s question (in the book), Bro Teoh mentioned that the question of ‘shall we stay with the silent mind?’ was a wrong question coming from the thought (non-understanding). The silent mind is the meditative mind that can insight into phenomena to awaken and understand reality. One has to cultivate until that silent awareness becomes a part of our nature so that it is always with us (ever mindful). We can then use it to cultivate, live life and awaken. One must not stay with it because it is just a nature, our true mind, a background awareness for us to develop the pure perception and the direct seeing to awaken.
- Most people are so gullible as to think, those objects of meditation, methods and techniques of meditation are the meditation itself. Instead they are only skillful means for one to anchor and train their mind before moving on to further contemplation and cultivation. They are only a means to an end. The real meditation is heedfulness as defined by dhammapada verse 23. Heedfulness = Constantly meditative + ever mindful.
- Bro Teoh mentioned that, in January 2017, when he was asked to do a write up for his new dharma website, he came across the Avijja Sutta which he had never heard before. It was strange indeed because that Sutta appeared to him on his computer screen when he was googling for some appropriate dharma to be included in the write-up. When he clicks on this Avijja sutta and saw the two cycles (ignorant cycle and enlightenment cycle) stated in the sutta, he immediately understood what they are and he decided to put it on the website because they are so beautiful and useful. He came to realize that was how he had cultivated his meditation following exactly the 10 steps as stated in the enlightenment sequence of the Avijja sutta. Bro Teoh belief many could not understand this Sutta because this sutta is very profound. Without a good understanding of this Sutta, one cannot root out or break free from ignorance.
- Initially, one has to use words to explain the Dharma. But, words can be misleading if they are not properly understood. Just as some Thai tradition’s books which use the translated word `knower’, like stay with the ‘knower’. Since it is anatta, there is no ‘knower’. The correct understanding should be stay with the ‘awareness’ nature. Hence, one needs some wisdom so as not to be so gullible by following blindly without investigating what has been taught.
- We cannot try to be aware. The trying is by the thought. The moment we do that; we are using another thought to look for mindfulness or to become mindful. When thought is active, how can you be aware? Instead we need to understand, the moment we are without thought, the awareness is already there. So just relax and don’t do anything, allow the thought to slow down and cease then the awareness is manifested. Then you will understand why the Buddha said, ‘in the seeing, initially there is just the seeing consciousness, the pure perception with no one to see as yet’.
- One cannot be silent because the wanting to know is by the thought. This is obvious from the first two links of Paticca Samupada – Avijja pacaya sankhara. Bro Teoh emphasized the importance of asking for clarification if you are not clear about the cultivation. Otherwise, you will be practicing wrongly. Whatever we do in the name of meditation, it is important for us to do it with understanding.
- Bro Teoh shared the dharma of an old monk, the late 广 钦 老 和 尚 (Guang Qing Lao He Shang) from China. He was an illiterate, but he was very wise. His dharma verse on, `过去心不可得 (The mind of the past which is already gone is not a reality), 未来心不可得 (the mind of the future, has yet to come, is also not a reality), and 现在心也不可得 (the present moment mind is also not a reality). So, there is nothing that we can hold onto, not even the present moment. But Bro Teoh cautioned us to be careful. We need the present moment mind in pure awareness to cultivate. For the ultimate realization, to transcend life, one has to transcend even the present moment leading to the cessation of form and mind which is the unconditioned. The present moment may be the highest in life but it is still within life.
- Bro Teoh mentioned comparisons between the Mahayana and Theravada approaches. The Mahayana teachings cover a wider scope of the Buddha’s teachings but lack a strong foundation of the essential dharma. The Theravada approach has the essentials laid out very clearly but it has not gone deep into the other aspects of the Buddha’s teachings. So when both can be integrated, the teaching becomes beautiful. This is what Bro Teoh has been doing in his classes. The Mahayana teaching is a spin off from the Theravada. If one has fixated ideas and views, one’s understanding will be very limited.
(Above draft outline short notes was prepared by Puan Chee)
with metta always,
Outline Short Notes for Bro Teoh’s 29 Aug 2019 Thursday class
1) Bro Teoh advised Tammy to forget about her various thoughts – thought behind a thought telling her this and that because this is not mindfulness. When thought is active how can you be mindful? When she thinks she is mindful, actually it is the thought that is telling her what the previous thoughts are. But if you are aware, it is different. That is, when you have developed the ability to be aware, it is just silently aware. The awareness that is aware of the whole thing has no words, no verbalisation, completely quiet. While the thought has a lot of words, concepts, ideas and verbalisations. The background awareness which is quiet is aware of the arising thought.
2) If she has developed the initial wisdom she will be very different. She will be able to understand what is going on in her mind. But most people don’t have this ability. This initial wisdom is very powerful. Without this initial wisdom, the egoic thought will have power to deceive you.
3) Is there is a thinker behind the thought? You have to silent your mind completely, in order to develop the ability to be aware. Then you will come to understand that thoughts are response to memory. Without memory there is no thought. That is the reason why a new born child with no memory and conditioning has no thought. Thought arise when we stir our mind due to our views opinions and conditioning. With mindfulness (awareness) we can see this movements clearly.
4) Everything the mind can do is Sankhara. The content of consciousness is Sankhara, which means the aggregates of feeling and perception are part of Sankhara. That is why they have to use so many English words to translate it. Karmic volition is one of the words. Volition is intention. Mental activities like thinking, planning and scheming, etc. is another word. Mental states or mind states is another word. Our mind can experience all the various mind states like peaceful, silence, tranquillity, sadness, anger, restlessness, fear, worry, anxiety, sorrow and lamentations, etc. Some are wholesome and some are unwholesome. The good mind states are piti, sukha, tranquillity and stillness of mind, peacefulness and calmness. Mental formation is another word. . Mind can form pictures – mental images. These are all part of Sankhara. But Sankhara is a complete word while the English translation requires so many words to express its meaning. Reason why the Buddha only uses this one word Sankhara under his teaching when he frequently mentioned, ‘Sabbe sankhara annica, Sabbe Sankhara dukkha and Sabbe dhamma anatta’.
5) All these Sankhara activities, be it mental states, mental intentions, mental formations, mental activities, etc. they arise and pass away very fast. Reason why the Buddha said, ‘All of Sankhara is impermanent’. If you give meaning, attach and cling on to them via self-delusion, suffering or dukkha will arise. And because it is impermanent, it is not a permanent unchanging entity, hence its anatta or non-self nature.
6) Pure feeling is before the emotion. There are 3 types of feeling – pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. What is pleasant feeling? It is a positive craving (sensual desire), a movement away from the pure feeling. A pure feeling is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. When the mind stirred because you like that good or pleasant feeling, it becomes a sensual desire (a mental hindrance). But pain and numbness are mental states that you dislike, so you label it negatively as unpleasant feeling which you dislike (also a mental hindrance). The neutral feeling can be due to indifference, you are neither happy nor unhappy because it has nothing to do with you or doesn’t concern you. So the egoic mind is not stirred, you just feel normal. But the 2nd type of neutral feeling which is Equanimity is different. It is borne of wisdom and because of that the mind states is always in the state of equanimity because it has the wisdom to understand. When it understands, it is neither positive nor negative. It does not stir but it is also not something you resist or suppress or don’t want to arise. Bro Teoh cited Sister Soo’s earlier sharing on her India pilgrimage trip as an example. Her thought was so still, as if no thought, neither happy nor unhappy but when she was mobbed and surrounded by beggars, she cringed and reacted with fear. In her case, she suppressed and willed her intention to be in such conditioned state, which is not a free mind. The true equanimity enlightenment factor is borne of wisdom. The wisdom and understanding will have the ability to accept things as they are, to allow you to see things as they are, to be with the moment, to experience everything the way it is. You are always be at peace. The mind will not complain. You will understand and not be agitated or become affected by what happen. You can maintain the peace within at all time. Then your daily mindfulness can stabilize. That’s the meaning of upekkha, the enlightenment factor of equanimity, borne of wisdom that prevents you from reacting to sense experience while in the midst of daily life. You can have more moments of silence, stillness and space between thoughts. Then specific phenomena awareness and spacious awareness (without a centre) keep on arising.
7) Bro Teoh urged us to develop the contemplative (2nd turning) and the meditative (3rd turning) wisdom/understanding of Sankhara. Inquire deeply, what is Sankhara? What the Buddha mean by Sankhara? The texts give many vague explanations, which is too wide a topic. Difficult for most people. Nobody can really explain it clearly. But as you meditate you can develop the deep understanding. Bro Teoh saw them in his meditation and understand the deep meaning of Sankhara. Sankhara as defined by the Buddha is, ‘everything the mind can do including feeling and perception’. These two aggregates of feeling and perception are separated out because they are important aggregates of mind. Feeling is stated in his teaching, under the 2nd foundation of mindfulness on feelings (Vedananupassana). When feeling has moved to pleasant or unpleasant, you must be aware. It has already stirred or reacted. The mind has already developed the first two mental hindrances of sensual desires and ill-will. Pleasant feeling is sensual desire and unpleasant feeling is ill-will. If you understand this, next is to develop the 5 opposite spiritual faculties to counter it and the meditative understanding to root it out via straightening our views with wisdom. Perception brings the external form or rupa into the mind.
8) Train the mind to develop the 5 spiritual faculties (Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi and Panna). The unshakeable faith in the Buddha’s teaching will allow you to understand the spiritual teaching and drive you to cultivate sati and Samadhi when you see the importance of this cultivation.
9) Bro Teoh explained further to Tammy that once you have realise the true mind, this question of yours will be self-answered. These are all thought based mind states not the real sati or awareness. When you are fully aware to experience the silent, the stillness, the tranquillity, etc. (especially when you go through the cessation, which is the enlightenment, even one glimpse is enough), the wisdom that arise will enable you to understand clearly straight away. Even the wisdom of a sotapan or a sakadagami – will enable them to know that there is: “hey no you, hey no me!” There is nobody inside. Non-self is not no self and it is also not nothingness. There is a form and mind but this form and mind is not you. This is not a permanent unchanging entity. There is no thinker behind the thought. (For more details please refer to the 18 August 2019 SJBA video Dharma Talk delivered by Bro Teoh on the topic: ‘The 3 Turnings of the 4 Noble Truths’ which is highly recommended to listen to, especially to the beautiful answers to the 2 questions on, the glimpse of Nibbana (4 Noble Truth), its cessation and the egoic mind towards the end.
10) Sis Tammy further shared about her thoughts arising and passing away moment to moment, anger comes and goes but when she grasps it, gives it meaning, it proliferates and deceive her into karmic negativity. She contemplated that she just needs to be aware and let it be. No need to proliferate it.
11) Bro Teoh reply, when you understand, ‘Sabbe sankhara anicca, Sabbe sankhara dukkha, I.e. all Sankhara are impermanent and leads to suffering, then you will not think unless you want to reflect and contemplate to develop the wisdom and understanding or arise to help people. The three ways of right conduct – right thought, right speech and right action will be there if you have developed the cultivation appropriately. You will know how to arise them.
12) Sis Tammy recalled the topic on cultivating virtues as taught by Bro Teoh in their previous class and with that understanding, when her unwholesome thoughts appeared, she was able to be aware.
13) Bro Teoh reply, virtues like gratitude, respect, kindness, gentleness, pleasantness, contentment, sincerity, etc. and wholesome thoughts will arise naturally when one has the Dharma. Without Dharma, all are still thought-based because the trying to arise the right thoughts, to do good or be good, is still by the egoic mind which has self-delusion. How can, the egoic mind arise the right thoughts? Only after having the Dharma understanding, the love and compassion can be sincere and genuine. Before that Dharma understanding, it is a make-believe good according to one’s egoic mind. When understanding unfolds, virtues become natural. You are incapable of evil. Everything that you arise is for the good of many without the evil roots. Virtue is not according to you or who but according to nature’s law. Whatever that is without the evil roots is virtue. J Krishnamurti says, ‘the absence of evil is good’. If you are incapable of evil, as advised by the Buddha says, “Sabba pappasa akaranam” (avoid all evil); naturally you will become good as you are incapable of evil. Mind without evil and ignorance, is naturally good. With the above understanding, Tammy can progress further.
14) Develop mindfulness, heedfulness and understand what constitute evil. Initially when you still have wrong views (self-delusion), unwholesome thoughts will arise first. You need to think of ways to abandon it via cultivating the 4 right efforts and the 5 ways to abandon the unwholesome thoughts as taught by Lord Buddha.
15) 5 ways to abandon unwholesome thoughts, speeches and actions as taught by Lord Buddha:
- Think of the direct opposite wholesome thoughts;
- Think of the consequences of holding on to those wrong evil thoughts which is the root of all evil that can cause your karmic nature to fall. Is that what you want?
- Meditative way – just relax and maintain awareness of whatever mind state that arise. Whatever emotions like fear, anger, lust etc. if you can be with it without thoughts, just aware, and then the emotion without new energy to fuel it will slow down and cease to be. No need to do anything because they are dependent originating mind states, not intrinsic in our nature.
- Trace the originating factors via mindfulness and reverse it retrospectively through right view and the right understanding developed. Through wrong views, the Buddha says, you stir your mind because you cannot see things as they are, cannot accept them for what they are, and cannot accept the world for what it is. And you fail to understand, whatever that arises in this universe there are causes and conditions behind (mainly attributed and connected to our past karma). If due to karma, then we have to accept it for we are all born of our karma, heir to our karma, conditioned and supported by our karma and we reap what we sow. This is how we develop the understanding of the Law of Karma, Law of mind or Dependent Origination and the law of truth or dharma to accept whatever happened. All phenomena are Conditions Arising, causal phenomenal. Even our 5 aggregates of form and mind are not what living beings think! Hey no you, hey no me! Everything is just a phenomena world of consciousness; dependent originating, not so real. Then you will understand why the Buddha says, we must to learn ‘to see things as they are’ through the direct seeing, through the silent mind to awaken to the truth. When you can see things as they are without the words and concept, then there is nothing, because initially before the delusion sets in, there is only the seeing consciousness, no one to see as yet. The ego (atta) is not involved as yet, for ‘things are just the way they are’. J Krishnamurti called it ‘What IS’ – the Suchness of things. Living beings are deceived by phenomenal world. The moment you realize this, the whole of phenomenal world collapsed in front of you and then the phenomenal world will have no power over you.
- If all above fails, the last resort is through will power to determine strongly to abandon it via tongue against palate!
16) Adam’s 1st question: His mind has this thought, to be compassionate and he wants to help a suffering cat. On the other hand, he realized, so much effort is involved in caring a cat. He is troubled by the thought – to help or not to help?
17) Bro Teoh reply: Who is trying to help? It is the thought. Don’t try to be a hero! There are millions of people suffering in this world. How many can you help? This is not help. The thought is telling you. I want to be compassionate. I want to help and be a blessing to all. The ego wants! When you don’t have the understanding of the Dharma, and you are in no capacity to help, Bro Teoh advice is not to touch it unless there is condition to do something. Helping is very noble but without Dharma, one can still get themselves entangled with karmic consequences. (Do refer to Master Hsuan Hua case of our previous session for more understanding).
18) However, if you have the conditions, passion and love to do it and you are gifted from your past, then you can do it, the healing to help people. But you must have the Dharma because the Dharma way is to teach them the Dharma. If they understand, they will know how to help themselves. Bro Teoh advice, not to interfere through doing it for them. No point because it is their life, they better decide how they want to live their life. Unless there is condition, Bro Teoh will not help. Conditions mean in the past they have past karmic affinity and had done certain goodness, they have helped people before and these people recovered. In this life, they got into trouble. Therefore, in summary without conditions, don’t get involved unless you are gifted in the past and you wanted to do that.
19) Adam’s 2nd question: Related to his personal problem. He tried to advise people and people took it negatively and proliferated their unwholesome comments which he heard.
20) Bro Teoh reply: When they don’t want you to help, don’t interfere and be a ‘kaypoh’ or a busybody in the hokkien dialect. You will get those unpleasant comments. Not everybody is what you think. Your thoughts will tell you all sorts of things. Always remember, unless you have the Dharma and you are ready, otherwise what you can do to help is always very limited.
21) The form and mind even though not you but it is subject to karma so it still has to abide by its duty towards this law of karma. If you can understand this, you can develop the wisdom to make use of it to live the noble life, to truly live life to the fullest – to experience the 3rd phase of Dharma, Pativedha ( to live the noble life of an ariya, an enlightened being).
22) Bro Teoh reviewed 15 Aug 2019 outline short notes as a revision with the class.
(Above outline short notes draft was prepared by Sis Poh Cheng)
With metta always,
Complete audio of the talk can be downloaded : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/uploads/Teoh-Tue-190827.mp3 Short Notes pdf : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/up…
Video link No. 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhfZBUdfTjU
Complete audio of the talk can be downloaded : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/uploads/Teoh-Tue-190827.mp3 Short Notes pdf : https://broteoh.com/wp-content/uploads/Short-Notes-Teoh-Tue-190827.pdf For more information please access to https://broteoh.com
Short notes link: https://broteoh.com/wp-content/uploads/Short-Notes-Teoh-Tue-190827.pdf
Brother Teoh’s 27 Aug 2019 Tuesday Class outline Short Notes
Book Reference: The Buddha and His Teachings by Narada (Chapter 39 – The State of an Arahant, Page 560; and Chapter 40 – The Bodhisattva Ideal, Page 565)
- This so called living being (5 aggregates of form and mind) is just a karmically conditioned ‘vehicle and tool’ for us to come to this existential world to live life, develop the cultivation and experience the beauty and wonders of life; to use it with wisdom to arise the right thoughts, right speeches, and right actions to be a blessing to all and not be deluded by it. For those without wisdom it is for them to come and pay back their karma.
- There 3 category of enlightenment:
– sound hearer, sainthood way leading to the Arahant ideal.
– awaken to the 12-links / condition-arising Dharma on their own (without the help of sasana)
– Difficult for other beings to understand as there’s no existing framework/structure/foundation to teach the dharma understood by them.
– Those cultivating the Bodhisattva way leading to the Bodhisattva ideal of realizing samma Sambuddhahood.
- 10 Dhamma realms:
- Realms 1-6 (covers the 31 planes of existence of the Theravada tradition)
- Realm 7 (realm of Sound Hearers)
- Realm 8 (realm of Pacceka Buddhas)
- Realm 9 (realm of Bodhisattvas)
- Realm 10 (realm of Samma Sambuddhas)
- There are 3 types of Bodhisattva ways of cultivation:
- Emphasised Panna/Wisdom perfection (perfected over 4 world cycles)
- Emphasised Viriya/Spiritual Zeal perfection (perfected over 8 world cycles)
- Emphasised Saddha/Faith perfection (perfected over 12 world cycles)
- All 5 spiritual faculties (Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi and Panna) are crucial mind states needed for cultivation (to enable us to understand spiritual teaching of the Buddha). Building on top of each one until they become Balas (or powers) to aid us in times of tribulations.
- Sis Tammy asks about the true meaning of defining “this ‘form and mind’ as non-self, yet not no-self and nothingness” as stated in our last Thursday class outline short notes.
- Bro Teoh clarifies further that, within the conditioned world/phenomena world of consciousness of ours, there is such a thing as life. There is such a thing as a human being within the conditioned world but this human being is nothing but just a fleeting or a momentary condition-arising causal phenomenon which is not so real (not a permanent unchanging entity) which is subject to karma. As real as it can be, it is only within the moment. Moment to moment, life passes by and that Present moment is the only reality because the past is already gone and future yet to come. Yet how stable is the present moment? As real as it can be, split second the moment is ‘dead’ and gone. This is the true meaning of empty nature of existence.
- Yet, if we have the wisdom to make use of our good and blessed life for the good of the many, to continue our cultivation and to fulfil our vows then this form and mind (of our this “segmented life”) can serve us well to enable us to live the beautiful 3rd phase of dharma – Pativedha, the noble life.
- Understanding the wisdom of both the conditioned and the unconditioned dharma, we will know how to truly live. Even though anatta/empty, but there is such a thing as “life” within the conditioned world. This is the reason why it is not no-self and nothingness. There are things but they are not so real. It is just a phenomena world of consciousness. Dependent originating.
- Sis Tammy asks about her observation of the 6 senses and an inkling she has that it is distant or disassociated from the self.
- Bro Teoh implores us all to enquire deep into all our senses experiences (which forms our experiences of the world), and how the form and mind functions with the sense bases and the mundane mind.
- Inquire how do we know the world and how do we interact with the world? Through our senses right? And what is thought? Who thinks and what thinks? Is there a ‘thinker’ behind the thought? Silent your mind to find out. Find out what the “mind” is, and discern the true mind.
- Only after investigating deep into our nature to understand clearly who are you and what are you? E.g. how do we know the world, will we understand the external “world” as manifestations of mind. Mind make are they and mind is the forerunner of all things. When mind arise, all things within the phenomena world arise. Exist already and everything is like real.
- To be able to see “things as they are”/ “reality”/ “truth”, without the perception through our memory-lens is true wisdom which is truly beautiful.
(Above outline short notes draft was prepared by Sis Soo Yee) – Sadhu! And very good!
With metta always,