With metta always,
Outline Short Notes for Brother Teoh’s 15 Aug 2019 Thursday Class
1. The key to successful meditation are the 4 supports for awareness based meditation: Relax, Aware, 24Hours and Trust. You may listen to the recording for more instructions on preparation before meditation.
2. Sis Angie’s question: When she is relaxed, she can be mindful of her breathing very clearly and she can also see the 3 universal characteristics of impermanence, non-self and Dukkha. Hope Bro. Teoh could guide her further.
3. Bro. Teoh replied: Can you explain how you are able to see the 3 universal characteristics?
4. Angie replied by saying, when she just let things be, the mind settled down and becomes very peaceful and quiet but when she clings on to it, the thinking or sankhara activities will perpetuate and proliferate and it is as if, when you keep chasing after the thinking, you make it into a big issue. This was how she gets entangle.
5. Bro Teoh: You may maintain meditative silent, without thought to observe and develop the contemplative understanding via relating what you observed to the essential dharma. This observation and contemplation can give you some initial 2nd turning wisdom’s understanding and this 2nd turning wisdom can be stabilized if one continue to contemplate after the formal meditation to develop the clearer understanding.
6. Bro. Teoh added that, it will be better if the understanding can come about via the direct seeing when you are in a meditative state of deeper silence. This type of wisdom is more penetrative. After that, when one reflected into it, the understanding become very different, it is very penetrative and more stable. However, this state is rather difficult to realize. The 1st and 2nd turnings wisdom, which is easier, can lead to the arising of the initial wisdom (yonisomanasikara) needed to stabilize your daily mindfulness leading to step 5 of the avijja sutta, which is sati sampajanna.
7. All sankhara are of the nature to arise and pass away. If you give meaning and follow the sankhara without the requisite understanding, you will get yourself entangled with the clinging and suffering. Sabba sankhara anicca, so it is not a permanent unchanging entity, not ‘I’ and not ‘Me’. One must reflect until this understanding becomes very clear within one’s daily mindfulness contemplation.
8. How do we cultivate this contemplation? We can do it when we are alone, in a quiet setting or on a silent morning when others are still asleep. We can sit in a quiet place or walk or pace up and down slowly, reflecting via inquiry on the dharma that Lord Buddha had taught us. Through contemplation and reflection, clear understanding and joy will arise as the beautiful dharma unfold. After that whenever we encounter similar sense experiences or situations, our understanding (yonisomanasikara) will prompt us not to react via telling us that all phenomena exhibit the 3 universal characteristics of nature.
9. This straightening of view will liberate one’s mind. One will understand, there is nobody inside this form and mind to cling, grasp and hold. The dharma on: Sabba sankhara anicca, Sabba sankhara dukkha and Sabba dhamma anatta will be very clear and there will be no more intention to be right or to argue with others. Unless there are conditions for it to bring about wholesomeness to help out in the situation, one will not do anything inappropriate. One will only arise the understanding to act appropriately with wisdom following N8FP. With this understanding, one is able to apply this living dharma to live our daily life. Wisdom (yonisomanasikara) at the moment of sense experience will prompt us to act according to wisdom and understanding, that ‘things are the way they are; can’t be otherwise’. The mind will be at peace and have the understanding to act and resolving all life issues and situations amicably with right speech, thought and action.
10. The 4 right efforts are important cultivation needed to develop sense restraint leading to the right thought, speech and action. The first 2 right efforts are to deal with defilements first. The 1st right effort is to abandon the wrong thought, speech and action that had arisen. To do that one must understand what constitute evil? And one must also have a very stable daily mindfulness to see those defilements. The 3 evil roots of Greed, Hatred and Delusion are the root of all evil. One therefore need to expand on the 3 evil roots until it is very clear (for more details please do listen to the recording). The 5 ways to abandon the wrong thought as taught by the Buddha must be cultivated. This is the beginning of cultivation.
11. The Buddha taught 5 ways to ABANDON unwholesome thoughts, speech and action are:
- 1st way: To think of the direct opposite wholesome thought, (like hatred with love, lust with contentment etc.)
- 2nd way: To think of the consequences of holding on to that wrong thought. (However, both 1st and 2nd ways are still thought based and not the meditative way.)
- 3rd way: Just aware (this is the meditation way). The moment one is aware, there are no more condition for the defilements to proliferate, the defilement will cease due to the law of dependent origination. However, this type of wisdom is not penetrative enough.
- 4th way: To trace the origination factors then retrospectively reverse it. From our 6 sense doors, especially our seeing, hearing and thought (recall through memory) consciousness, we can see how the unwholesome mind state of angry, hatred and fear, etc. arise through our wrong view. According to the Satipatthana Sutta, if one had developed the mindfulness of the 6 internal and 6 external sense bases, one will have the ability to know how this defilement come to be, then one will know how to reverse it retrospectively through right view or right understanding developed after contemplating – why did I stir my mind? Through reflection and contemplation, one will understands that people are the way they are and the world is the world – conditions like that, things will be like that. One must have this right view to accept the reality of the moment via seeing things as they are (as advised by the Buddha) in order to be peaceful.
- 5th way: If all the above 4 ways also cannot help you, then you must determine strongly through your will power to abandon it. That is with tongue against your palate determine strongly to abandon it.
12. The 1st right effort is to cultivate the above 5 ways as taught by the Buddha to abandon the wrong thought that has arisen. The 3rd and the 4th ways are meditative ways leading to wisdom and transformation.
13. The 2nd right effort is the right effort to prevent all the wrong thought, speech and action from arising. With yonisomanasikara, at the moment of sense experience, this initial wisdom will prompt you to understand how this evil wrong thought will lead to karmic negativity that will make us suffer. All these understanding will arise, and you will be able to prevent all these wrong thoughts from arising.
14. The 3rd right effort is the right effort to cultivate or arise the wholesome thought, speech and action that are still not in us through cultivating the N8FP. One need to know clearly what constitute right thought, speech and action, so that one will know how to cultivate them. All your virtuous thoughts are right thoughts. All proper, gentle, wholesome, kind and pleasant speeches that lead to love, understanding and harmony are right speeches. All generous, kind, sincere and good actions are right actions.
15. The 4th right effort: right effort to refine upon whatever right action speech and thought that are already in you as there are always room for improvement.
16. Adam’s 1st question is about fear. Which category of the 3 evil roots is fear classified under?
17. Bro Teoh explained, ‘Fear is classified under the evil root of delusion’. When one doesn’t understand truth, there is fear. Fear about the future. Fear of death etc.
18. Adam’s 2nd question: Regarding a friend of his, clinging strongly to her success. Should she follow her heart or her thoughts? Bro. Teoh replied, ‘Yes, she should follow her heart which is the conscience (the good part). The mundane mind (your thoughts) before you are enlightened is always cunning, selfish and deluded (having evil roots). Conscience can comes up and prompt us to prevent you from making mistake. However, the conscious mundane mind with its view, opinion, and conditioning and believe system is deluded and it is the one that always very keen to condition you into negativity. The heart is always soothing, calm and peaceful whereas the deluded mundane mind is usually selfish, deluded, emotional and noisy and it also chatters a lot.
19. Continuation of question 2): Adam helped a friend overcome her depression and she no longer clinging to her success, but she has a different faith.
20. Bro. Teoh replied, changes will happen to her when you change, then with her faith in you, she will change too. Dharma is nature’s truth or law. The proper application of Dharma can lead to a good life, which means be successful in whatever you do, whatever you want to achieve or develop as a career. Success in life normally covers the whole lot of materialistic successes that normal living being look to. Like academic success, career success, financial success, relationship success and having a harmonious family unit, etc. However, without the spiritual understanding, your life is still incomplete. You may be successful, materialistically, but if you do not follow the righteous way, there will be karmic repercussions, and you may lose them after a while. Without the spiritual understanding when one is confronted with the realities of life, as outlined in the 1st noble truth, one will also suffer. The 8 realities are: old age, sickness and death, separation from love ones and prized possessions, etc. When you are with someone whom you do not like and can’t get along with. When you cannot get what you want, are you still peaceful and happy? Spiritual success can allow one to have the ability to lead a good and comfortable life free of all worry and suffering. Live the life of a noble one (an enlightened being) – a life of tranquillity stillness, peacefulness, joy, happiness and understanding. Free from all suffering.
21. Adam’s 3rd question: How do we cultivate goodness (like healing people) wisely?
22. Bro Teoh: To you, you are applying what you think is goodness (like healing others) to help people. But this is goodness according to you. The Dharma way is different. The dharma way is just explaining to people the dharma to let them have the understanding to solve their problem through that understanding. If they do not have the understanding, they will always look for you to help them solve their problem. To heal others with thought energy may get you entangle with their negative karmic energy and some of these karmic energy may have karmic consequences. The healer must have the appropriate wisdom and understanding, otherwise they may get into trouble themselves. It is advisable to develop the Dharma understanding first and only manifest to do something appropriate when the conditions are there for you to help others. To have a better understanding of this, please do listen to the audio recording shared by Bro Teoh on Master Hsuan Hua’s experience.
23. Sister Angie asked about this anatta nature that the Buddha taught.
Bro. Teoh explained, that one can see this anatta nature in your 5 aggregates of form and mind. They exhibit the 3-universal characteristics. Hence, it is not you for they go the way of nature. When feeling changes you didn’t die, so feeling cannot be you. Same with perception, sankhara and consciousness. This physical body (rupa) made from 4 elements, can’t be you either. Hence, these 5 aggregates of form and mind are non-self. If one grasp and cling, it will lead to suffering because it is not a permanent unchanging entity. They are dependent originating, condition arising and a causal phenomenon; when condition is there, it arise, if it is not there it ceases to be.
24. Then what is this 5 aggregates of form and mind? This is a karmically conditioned vehicle and a tool for us to come to this existential world, so use it and not be deluded by it.
25. Anatta means, it is not a permanent unchanging entity that you can call, “this is ‘Me’, this is ‘I’. No, this does not belong to you”. This one is non-self but it is not nothingness, it is not no self, because there is such a thing as a human being. Human being exists and it is subject to karma. True nature is not subject to karma. This is a nature which is beyond the form and mind, and this eternal nature is also anatta, not a being, not a permanent unchanging entity, although it is the unconditioned. Your understanding will deepen when your mindfulness is very stable. Only when you go through the cessation, you can only truly understand what anatta is. Even a glimpse of it will lead to the change of linage and transform your form and mind into an ariya (a noble or enlightened being).
26. The initial wisdom (yonisomanasikara) borne of listening to the dharma and Dharma contemplation leading to the 1st and 2nd turnings wisdom is very important. Without this initial wisdom the daily mindfulness cannot stabilize and the glimpse of cessation also cannot arise. For the 3rd turning wisdom (Bhavanamaya panna) to arise, you must go through the direct seeing awakening via the silent mind while in the meditative state. Only after realizing the cessation of Nibbana can the form and mind understand the unconditioned. After that the egoic mind will have no power over you as this self-delusion has been completely rooted out.