||Teoh Thu 191114
(Short Notes pdf)
||Teoh Thu 191107
(Short Notes pdf)
||Teoh Thu 191024
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||Teoh Thu 191017
Meditation guidance for the serious cultivator YouTube
How to deal with sensations (like pain, itchiness, etc) that arise when sitting in meditation YouTube
Applying the 4 Noble Truths in Daily life to solve Human Problems YouTube
(Short Notes pdf)
Adam shared, that during his last Thursday’s meditation he felt itchiness on his ears and nose, and he inquire: what should he do. Brother Teoh advice Adam to investigate into it to develop the understanding as per his earlier advice to him – to just let things be and do not label the sensation as itchy or pain. I.e. just relax into it and maintain awareness via the awareness based meditation to develop the understanding. This allows for acceptance of the reality within the moment instead of suppressing the sensation through not wanting to react to that tactile sensation. Do not allow the wrong thought (borne of habitual tendency) to condition your mundane mind to label the sensation as pain to arise the mental hindrance of ill-will to hinder your mind from entering the meditative state of inner peace and inner awareness. Then sati will take over leading to a shift in consciousness to cause the so called itchy sensation to become normal and peaceful again. The mind will then become peaceful, quiet and still. This is the meditative mind. Use this mind to meditate. To be aware of how the ‘tactile sensation’ condition you to stir your mind via your habitual tendency to label it as itchiness. To see clearly how you (the form and mind) function following nature’s laws.
Whenever you are unhappy and not peaceful, for sure the 3 evil roots are present in your mind. Sati is needed for us to have the sensitivity to be aware of such lack of peace so that we are not further drawn into such negative emotions. When you do not have the right view, you get caught in sankhara activities. On the other hand, when you are in the meditative state, you are peaceful and free from the evil roots. You can trace the origination factors for such unhappiness and see for yourself the working of the 4 noble truths.
The Silent inner awareness can enable you to see how the tactile sensation via thoughts condition you to label it as itchy, then condition you to scratch it. The thought is not you, why let the thought condition you to do things? From your inner awareness (or self-nature), as the host, you can decide not to follow the thought’s conditioning to scratch. The thought is supposed to serve you because you are the ‘host’ and not the slave. You cannot scratch if your body is dead, right? So assume you are dead then find out what happen. Awareness will understand all these. Relax into whatever sensation that arise, it will finally cease to be because the chi will flow when there is no mental resistance. Then there will be the shift of consciousness, leading to peace and stillness when sati takes over. You will come to understand that sensation is condition arising, a casual phenomenon following the law of dependent origination. You can contemplate all these after you come out of the formal meditation. If you are a beginner and you need to scratch, you can, but do it mindfully.
Awareness can see things as they are to develop the understanding of what causes your mundane mind to stir, to label, to do things, get emotional and becomes unhappy. Sati allows you to see all these clearly. How your ‘Form and mind’ interact with the world following Paticca samuppada (12-links or the law of dependent origination). Due to ignorance of the reality, sankhara (mental activities) arise. Wanting to know, you start to think. But thinking does not develop wisdom. However when you are silent without thought, understanding can come about. Develop wisdom so that you know how to use thought appropriately. The user of thought is most important.
Mundane mind is needed for living life. But for meditation, use the true mind. The true mind is needed for witnessing the arising and passing away of phenomena. This true mind is not a being but just a nature within.
Be aware of how feeling has been stirred due to wrong views, leading to sensual desire and ill will (mental hindrances). That is the reason why you should not label the feeling. Just relax into any mind states that arise, maintain awareness and let things be, so that sankhara won’t proliferate. Sati will then take over, and you will become quiet, peaceful and still. The 5 spiritual faculties are needed for this to be possible.
Just like the pool of water analogy. Bullock cart passes by, the pool of water is churned, and thus the water will become milky. But as time passes by, with no bullock cart pass by, sediments will settled down, and without stirring, the water will become clear. Same with the mind. The evil roots will only arise when the mind is stirred due to wrong views.
Meditation must be done with understanding. Thus having right view is vital. This saves you from wasting your time on unnecessary training. With understanding you progress faster. You can learn from life and dharma friends through true sharing so that all can benefit.
In the Satipatthana sutta, everything is about mindfulness. The 4 foundation of mindfulness cultivation is also about sati or mindfulness. No more thought involve.
Anapanasati is the initial training of mind to be mindful. This mindfulness (sati) is an Enlightenment factor that can be used to investigate dharma. When dharma stands up to investigation, faith is developed leading to viriya. Sati then stabilized, leading to piti (spiritual joy). When you relax into it, piti becomes more refine leading to sukha and passaddhi. Passaddhi is tranquility and stillness of mind, the silent mind (meditative mind) which can really meditate. Passaddhi is the beginning of true meditation. Passaddhi is to be stabilized until mind enters sati leading to Samadhi (upacara Samadhi). This mind is unwavering and collected. This upacara Samadhi is important for living life. At the moment of sense experience, mind will not stir, this will enable you to see ‘things as they are’ or to see reality (truth). The reason mind wavers or stir is due to one’s habitual tendencies borne of one’s conditioning and not having right view.
The egoic mind arise because of strong self-delusion, hence it is usually difficult for most people to deal with people whom they dislike due to their perceived wrong views and opinions. Their attachment to their loved ones and priced possessions are also very strong.
How to apply the 4 Noble truths in real life?
Sister Tammy chooses the example on relationship issues relating to girlfriend and boyfriend. Brother Teoh reminds Kalyanamitta to always remember that they are the ‘host’. So stay with the true mind (your true nature). There are two minds – true mind and mundane mind. True mind is where wisdom arises and when this wisdom is connected to the ‘form and mind’, this ‘form and mind’ is no longer deluded. Whereas without wisdom this mundane mind stirs and reacts as it is deluded. When relationship fails, the mundane mind stirs causing one to be emotional, jealousy and angry. I.e. it conditions sankhara activities (wrong thoughts) leading to all the mental suffering borne of craving, grasping and clinging. (1st and 2nd noble truth’s reality). For more details please do listen to the 17 October 2019 Thursday class’s audio and video recording.
Silent your mind and feel. Who is feeling all these (negative) emotions? Whatever emotions that arise, just be with it and don’t think, eventually the mind will become still and quiet. The true mind is none of all these emotions or sankhara aggregate. All mind states are condition arising, causal phenomenal, not real, not you. 14. Your true mind is just aware, tranquil, peaceful and still. You get entangled because you don’t understand the true mind and the 4 noble truth’s 3 turnings wisdom. You get entangle through clinging to the mundane mind, thinking it is real and it is you, through your self-delusion.
Only true Dharma can free your mind. The mundane mind is not you. True nature is still and peaceful at all time. It is the unborn. Do you choose to be with the mundane mind or with the true mind?
Since Mind is the forerunner of all things, mind is chief, when mind arise, all things arise. Thus wisdom is needed to use this mundane mind wisely or else suffering will follow you as you live life heedlessly, instead of following the dharma way guided by the noble eightfold path.
Determine to be heedful. The wise one intents on heedfulness and they rejoice in the realm of the ariyas. That is why their mind are always peaceful, tranquil and still. All the sankhara activities has nothing to do with ‘the host’.
2nd noble truth – cause of suffering is craving. It is self-delusion which conditions craving, grasping and clinging to give meaning to everything that arise, leading to fear of the unknown like death, ghosts, etc. If the egoic mind makes you think you exist, this personality view, will make you selfish, angry, emotional and fearful. Constantly listen to dharma and contemplate to develop 1st and 2nd turning wisdom to understand that there is no one to crave. Who craves? It is this mundane mind which craves.
Why did the angry thoughts keep coming up? Because you cling to the relationship, believing it is real, this is the cause of suffering. How to reverse it? This craving is to be abandoned. Understanding is important to abandon this craving. Through the Buddha’s meditative ways develop the wisdom (right views) to free.
With right view, mundane mind will not stir or react. You are at peace. There is clarity to reflect on things. With clarity of mind, you can move on to resolve all issues amicably following noble eightfold path so as not to create more misunderstanding and karmic negativity. These are very useful dharma understanding.
3rd noble truth, – suffering need not be. Enlightenment or Nibbana can be realize in the here and now. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You should thus go all out to cultivate it and to realize it.
The 4th noble truth being this noble eightfold path is to be cultivated. When you have the embodiment of the noble eightfold path factors, then you can say you are enlightened. The application part is more important especially in daily life. You have to apply all the 3 turnings of the 4 noble truths in daily life. When you have questions relating to the cultivation you should ask in class, then Brother Teoh can share from his nature. What his nature understands is much more than what he has shared, thus it has to depend on the appropriate conditions for him to share more. It has been beautiful over the past 15 years, as there have been valuable sharing among the kalyanamittas. After you connect to your true nature, you will come to know your true nature better. This sasana is very special as the consciousness now is still very conducive and the true dharma are still available and present.
(Above draft outline short notes was prepared by Sister Angie Chong Phey Yuen)
||Teoh Thu 191010
Daily Mindfulness & Understanding Cultivation Part 4 Revision YouTube
(Short Notes pdf)
Bro Teoh went through the 3rd October 2019 last Thursday class outline short notes. He reminded cultivators about the importance of understanding the 2 types of minds, namely the true mind and mundane mind. The true mind is inherent in everyone but most of us are not aware of it. It cannot come out to live life because it is not a being. It is just a nature within, which is beyond thought and beyond mind. It is the awareness nature or suchness nature within. It is from this nature that everything arises leading to the creation by the mundane mind.
When one awakens to this True nature, one can understand what life is all about, who you are and how you function as a living being. Meditation will lead one to the understanding of how creation arises via the mundane mind or ‘mano’. Everything is mind-made because the ‘mano’ is the dependent-originating mundane mind. Without memory, ‘mano’ cannot arise. But to awaken, we need to meditate using the true mind. Thoughts cannot lead us to that realization of the unconditioned dharma which is beyond thought and beyond time. Hence, all thought-based meditation cannot lead to the awakening of such truth. The true mind is without words and concepts. Once the silent (meditating) mind realizes the true mind and awaken, the wisdom which is connected to this form and mind will enable the mundane mind to have the wisdom. The mundane mind will then be able to see things as they are and not be deceived by the phenomena world of consciousness.
Hence, unenlightened normal people or puthujanas are heedless most of the time due to their ignorant that deceive them to act heedlessly (according to their memory (which is mainly thought and knowledge based) instead of wisdom. This is the only way they know how to act to live life not knowing that there is another self-nature within them which is beyond thought. That nature is able to insight into phenomena via the direct seeing to awaken to the truth.
This was what Master Hui Neng realized when he heard the Diamond Sutra expounded by the 5th Patriarch. When he came to the passage, `… to use the mind yet be free from any attachment.…’ immediately, he came to great awakening – that all dharma are inseparable from the self-nature and He then exclaimed, `How amazing that the self-nature is originally pure and inherently complete by itself! How amazing that the self-nature is the unborn and undying! How amazing that the self-nature neither moves nor stays! How amazing that all dharma come from this self-nature.’
One day, Master Hongren (the 5th Patriarch) announced, ‘the question of incessant rebirth is a momentous one. Day after day, instead of trying to free yourselves from this bitter sea of life and death, you seem to go after tainted merits only (i.e. merits which will cause rebirth). Yet merits will be of no help if your Essence of Mind is obscured. Go and seek Prajna (wisdom) in your own mind and then write me a stanza (gatha) about it. He who understands what the Essence of Mind is will be given the robe (the insignia of the Patriarch ship) and the dharma (the ultimate teaching of the Chán school), and I shall make him the Sixth Patriarch. Go away quickly. Delay not in writing the stanza, as deliberation is quite unnecessary and of no use. The man who has realized the Essence of Mind can speak of it at once, as soon as he is spoken to about it; and he cannot lose sight of it, even when engaged in battle’.
All creation starts from this self-nature. How is thought created? From the true nature, the awareness nature, the spacious awareness shrinks into a tiny space to perceive something. With the input of memory (content of consciousness), it becomes a thought. But the spacious awareness or the oneness nature is so immense. With this understanding, one can understand why thought is limited and how to meditate easily and correctly to realize the true mind.
To answer Sister Angie’s question, whether we can use thought to live life, Bro Teoh explained that the form and mind is just a ‘vehicle and tool’ for us to come to this existential world. But, before the form and mind become enlightened, the mundane mind is deluded. Hence, one needs to meditate using the true mind whereby with the direct seeing, one can insight into the three universal characteristics of nature to awaken. The wisdom or understanding that arises will enable one to realize that the form and mind (both the 2 aspects) are not real. They are dependent-originating. Not a permanent unchanging entity. Hence we cannot cling and hold onto anything, thinking we can own or possess it.
This wisdom will arise when one connects to the true nature to see clearly how the mundane mind has been deceiving us to crave, grasp and cling all this while; thinking everything is so real. Acting according to memory, is not acting at all. It is only true action when one acts with wisdom. The reason being, memories are our accumulated experiences (both good and bad). Especially our Psychological memories comprising our phobias, fears, insecurities, scars of memory, all forms of negative emotions, craving, lust, selfishness and insecurity, etc. This is the source of all our wrong thoughts that conditions us to arise the evil roots of Greed, Hatred and Delusion when we act with our memory, leading to suffering.
Technically, without wisdom, there is no way one can act appropriately. Wisdom can be develop through constantly listening to the true dharma to arise the 1st turning wisdom of suttamaya panna. This is the initial wisdom. To stabilize it, one needs to reflect and inquire deep into the dharma as proclaimed by the Buddha to arise the 2nd turning wisdom of cittamaya panna. When the understanding is stabilized, it can then be assimilated into one’s nature. With awareness (mindfulness), one can see how the mundane mind is responsible for everything following Dhammapada verses 1 and 2. `Mind is the forerunner of all things. If one acts or thinks or thinks with an impure mind, sorrow will follow one just like the wheel that follows the hoof of the ox. Mind is the forerunner of all things. If one thinks or acts with a pure mind, happiness will follow one just like the shadow that never leaves.’
It is only when one awakens to the true mind that one can live life well and use the mundane mind wisely in following the Noble Eightfold Path. Otherwise, our action springs most of the time from self-delusion leading to wrong thoughts. Strangely, Bro Teoh has been expounding the same dharma for more than ten years and it has been repeated so often yet many still cannot get it. It has taken so long for most to understand this message. So there is a need to really see the urgency to understand it. Otherwise, no amount of meditation (without this proper understanding) can help you. Without the correct understanding, one will be wasting a lot of time cultivating thought-based, superficial dharma.
It is crucial to reflect on the host and guests analogy. The host nature is always there, whether one is aware of it or not. Without the stability of mindfulness (sati), one is not able to be with the true mind. What happens is, one who is heedless, is always being deceived by the guests that come in and go out. The guests symbolize our 6 external sense data. But if one is aware of the guests’ movements, one can stay as the host (the pure awareness nature) and not be deceived by the guests or arising phenomena. Wisdom will keep one grounded instead of being distracted and deluded by them. When one knows, one is the host, one doesn’t get involved via self-delusion. Instead, one just does one’s duty with understanding following one’s right view with regards to the law of karma.
Eventually, we will understand that nobody suffers and Hey no ‘You’ and Hey no ‘Me’. The user of thought with the wisdom within will act wisely and appropriately. Yet, the host is also not you because it is not a being. Instead, you are that eternal nature which is the unconditioned. When one awakens to that understanding, how can there be fear of the unknown and any suffering? That nature never dies, so life becomes so beautiful, meaningful and wonderful when this whole understanding of dharma has been established. This understanding is so different and it is not like what other people used to tell you because it is a realization borne of an awakening through the silent mind.
To understand meditation, you must understand mind which I have mentioned before. This is basic understanding. The two types of mind are: the mundane mind and the true mind. Very few people can realize the true mind. ‘Meditation is to silent the mind to be aware of the truth and reality within the moment’. The true nature is connected to the form and mind. True Meditation has nothing to do with techniques and methods of meditation as these are just skilful means to train the mind initially to develop awareness. However, without this understanding, one will be wasting one’s time going round and round (cultivating superficial dharma). The egoic mind will keep on deceiving you. Without a stable daily mindfulness develop, one does not stand a chance at all.
Everybody is interested in dharma but the true dharma is the unconditioned which is akaliko (beyond thought and words). After awakening, one can then use words to share with others.
With wisdom, one can act free of the evil roots. It is important to avoid all evil, do good and purify the mind. It is therefore very important for cultivator to develop the first and second turning wisdom before using one’s thought. But that doesn’t mean that you do not think. At least, have some basic understanding of what constitute right thoughts and understand what constitutes evil. Keeping the five precepts is just as important. Having dharma friends, constantly listening to the dharma, arising faith, arising the initial wisdom, cultivating daily mindfulness and meditating with the silent mind are key factors to help us progress along the path of dharma.
Without the above understanding and training, it is very difficult for the restless mundane mind to settle down. When one violates nature’s laws, the mental hindrances will keep on arising to prevent one from entering the meditative state of inner peace and inner awareness within.
Cultivating with right view supported by the four right efforts as well as having the five spiritual faculties are just as important. With the initial wisdom (yonisomanasikara) and daily mindfulness (sati sampajanna) developed as support, sense restraint becomes automatic.
We are what we are because of our karma and things are just the way they are. With this understanding, one does not need to react when things happen. We can be at peace with the moment and reflect with clarity to act following Noble Eightfold Path, to resolve the situation amicably with wisdom.
The realization of one’s true mind is the beginning of true meditation. It is only from here that the real meditation starts. As long as one is not heedful while in the midst of life, the real meditation has not started.
Bro Teoh mentioned about a lady who wrote to him regarding her experience when eating. She could see many things and how her pleasant feelings arise. As she watched and contemplated, she said she saw that feeling was impermanent, so it was suffering and non-self. However, Bro Teoh said that she was using thought and knowledge to analyze her experience. When the thought is active (trying to be the meditator), she failed to understand what is going on because she lack awareness or mindfulness to see things as they are. Noting with the thought is not mindfulness. True sati or mindfulness (awareness) is without thought. Awareness and phenomenon moves as one.
It is only through this silent inner awareness that one can awaken to the three universal characteristics of nature, without words and concepts. Awareness has no word. Understanding will arise and then one can link back to what has happened. Hence, it is essential to develop the silent mind to be aware of the reality within the moment.
The realization of the unconditioned cannot be expressed through words. In true emptiness, there is no one to attain (as stated in the Heart sutra). In the conditioned-arising world, living beings do get sick and die. But in reality, there is neither existence nor death.
Memory is a tool for us to use. But if we cling onto it, it binds us and becomes an obstruction. As quoted by J. Krishnamurti, the most dangerous person in this world is the one who says ‘I knows.’ All knowing comes from thoughts via memory. Perception of form is consciousness and its non-perception is wisdom. All of knowing is knowledge borne of memory. When one says he already knows, he cannot learn anymore.
(Above short notes draft is by Puan Chee)
||Teoh Thu 191003
Daily Mindfulness & Understanding Cultivation Part 4 Youtube
(Short Notes pdf)
One needs to develop meditation with some basic understanding of mind. We must understand that we have two minds, namely the mundane mind and the true mind. To live life we use the mundane mind which is responsible for all arising of mind. Without wisdom this mundane mind will become heedless and evil, to arise the 3 evil roots of Greed, Hatred and Delusion. Then suffering will be the result following Dhammapada verse 1. With wisdom borne of right views, this mundane mind will arise all the right thoughts, right speeches and right actions, then happiness will follow us like the shadow that never leaves us following Dhammapada verse 2.
It is important to understand who you are, what are you and what that self-nature is all about. And that all things arise from self nature via the mundane mind’s creation.
Understanding the two types of the mind is essential. First type, is the mundane mind/thinking mind; second type is supra mundane mind/true mind/self nature/Buddha nature/silent mind/meditative mind. The reason why most people don’t know how to meditate is because they only know the mundane mind. This mundane mind is dependent originating, arises depending on conditions. However, when you are able to realize your true mind through meditation, you will come to understand that, this one is different because it is beyond thought and beyond mind and this self-nature is inherent in all beings. Without thought, there is only the awareness nature within. It is just a suchness ‘nature’ within (not a being), so it cannot come out and live life because it is not you nor is it a being. But this is the nature that can awakens, understands truth and realizes enlightenment. From this self-nature, everything arises through the mundane mind’s creation.
It is important to reflect on ‘the host and guests’ analogy. The host (which is the awareness nature within) is always there, the guests are the six external sense data, whereby upon contact with mind, all their respective sense door consciousness arises. The guests come and go whereas the host always stay (does not come nor go). Remember you are the host. You are aware of all the guest’s movements, and with awareness and wisdom, you can make use of them and stay above them because your wisdom will prevent you from being deluded or deceived by them. But without this understanding that you are the host, you can be deceived by all the guests and their complaints etc. and get sucked into the whole chaotic situation. However, when you understand that you are the host, you do not get involved. Similarly, when sense data comes in, upon contact what happens (following dependent origination), you will understand for you can see them clearly. Then you will not become entangled in it. On the other hand, if you do not understand, that you are just this true nature within, which is just being aware, not a being, then your egoic mind will arise to delude you. When you are just silent (without thought), the true nature can insight into phenomena to awaken.
Thus meditation is just the silent mind being aware of what is going on within our form and mind, to see the truth of dependent origination clearly via seeing things as they are.
Mundane mind before enlightenment is deluded, thus it creates a lot of wrong speech, wrong thoughts and wrong actions. All wholesomeness or unwholesomeness arise via the mundane mind’s creation. Reason why the Buddha under Dhammapada verses 1 and 2 says, ‘mind is the forerunner of things, mind is chief, when mind arise all good and bad arises dependent on the user of such mind’. If you act with a heedless mind borne of delusion (i.e. with greed, hatred and delusion), suffering will follow you like the wheel which follows the hoof of the cart. Therefore wisdom is needed to use this mundane mind appropriately. When you are heedful with wisdom to use this mind, you will train it to develop awareness and understanding, and you will then act according to wisdom with a wholesome mind (free of the evil roots), then happiness will follow you like the shadow that never leaves you.
Therefore it is important to avoid all evil, do good and purify your mind as advised by the Buddha. Act with wisdom following the noble eightfold path, to be free of suffering. USER of thought is very important.
The 5 precepts are vital, violating them constitute committing major evil. With mindfulness and yoniso manasikara developed, there can be sense restraint to enable us not to violate the precepts.
We should enquire who actually harm and kill. They are violent, selfish and deluded people with the 3 evil roots of Greed, Hatred and Delusion. This will lead to karmic down fall and this is also the reason why keeping precepts or Sila is vital. Then you will have good conditions, good mind states and karmic support to support your meditation. With Sila comes Samadhi leading to Panna. (To refer to the brown transcript book on ‘Essential dhamma as taught by Buddha’ for more detail explanation).
The 5 aggregates of form and mind also has two aspects. 1st aspect is as a living being. 2nd aspect is as a mental 5 aggregates of form and mind or thought. This 5 aggregates of form and mind is subject to karma. Even though it is a karmically conditioned living being, but it is not a permanent unchanging entity that you can cling onto and grasp onto as the ‘I’ and the ‘Me’, thus it is non- self, but it does exists.
To develop wisdom, you need to meditate with the true mind to awaken.
In short, the whole of cultivation can be summarize as follows:
- Avoid all evil, cultivate wholesomeness and purify mind following advice of all Buddha.
- Cultivate and act following Noble Eightfold path. (Right view to cultivate right speech, right action, right thought and the 4 right efforts).
- Cultivate the 5 spiritual faculties of Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi and Panna.
- Constantly listen to dharma, inquire and contemplate the dharma with a relatively quiet mind (i.e. a creative mind) to arise the 1st and 2nd turning initial wisdom (Yonisomanasikara).
- Meditate is to realize the true mind (until mind enters sati).
- Cultivate daily mindfulness and clear comprehension leading to sense restraint.
To understand that things are just the way they are. We are all born of our karma, heir to our karma, conditioned and supported by our karma and we are what we are because of our karma. There are causes and conditions behind all that happen. Thus when things happen, you must not react, blame or get angry, then you can be at peace with the reality of the moment, with a clear mind. Then you can contemplate on what happened to resolve things amicably so that you can move on and not suffer. Noble eightfold path is the way to end all suffering. When you act with right view, you will know how to utilize the mundane mind.
The realization of one’s true mind is the beginning of true meditation.
There was an email question by a lady on: cultivating daily mindfulness. She described how while eating, she is aware of her mental intentions to hold the chopstick, take the vegetable, open her mouth, put the vegetable into her mouth, start chewing’ etc.
Bro Teoh: The above is okay but the more important aspect of the training is when your hand moves to hold the chopstick you must be fully aware of that action and hand movement, that is body and mind moves as one (without thought) – that is sati (mindfulness). Similarly for the other activities and actions (like the taking of vegetables, opening of your mouth, putting it into your mouth and chewing etc.) – Just do, until you are just aware and most of the time without thoughts, then your mental chattering and verbalization will be greatly reduced and you will become more and more quiet and just mindful or aware. When mindfulness is more and more continuous, it will stabilized then your mind is extra ordinary sensitive and you can see many things which you never see before to develop the understanding of the essential dharma as taught by the Buddha and the understanding of who you are and what you are? How you function as a human being, etc.
When u said, ‘Then pleasant feelings arise. So I watch the feelings & contemplate it in mind, this feeling is impermanent, suffering & non-self. It is the same for all other feelings. All these awareness is very fast. So I try to do it for everyday activities’.
The above is what you are normally taught to do (it that way) but the real contemplation is very different. This is mainly doing it via dharma knowledge. What you should be doing is just silent your mind and maintain awareness (don’t try to know). The awareness will develop the understanding to awaken to the 3 universal characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta by itself without words, knowledge or concept. After this training is developed then only contemplate to stabilize the understanding – not before, otherwise it will become just dharma knowledge based contemplation which may not be effective. (While chewing food, she notes the pleasant sensation, then uses dharma knowledge to relate why this is impermanent and non-self. This is not the way to cultivate. When aware there is no word, understanding will thus come, and then you can link back to knowledge).
Develop the silent mind and just be aware, understanding will come by itself without you doing anything. After this, you can contemplate with the silent mind. Through your mindfulness you can awaken, not through your knowledge nor thought or memory.
Brother Teoh’s daughter did her cultivation differently i.e. when chewing, she enquired: – How do I recognize this as a pleasant feeling? What does pleasant mean to me? How did I learn this concept of pleasant?
She traced it to her conditioning borne of memory. Her these style of questioning had helped her to discover and understand more deeply how she experiences the world while living life. The thing she now understand is very different from the knowledge she uses to have. In doing so, she becomes more aware of her life and her thought’s conditioning.
It is important to develop the silent, meditative mind until it is very stable and sensitive, so that you are aware when there is any intention to or any stirring of mind via likes or dislikes borne of habitual tendencies. Yoniso manasikara will prompt you that this is attachment for thing is just the way it is. When there is condition for good food, you can have it. But when there is no condition, there is no suffering because there is understanding.
Brother Teoh encourages kalyanamitta to ask questions to create conditions for him to share. Don’t be shy, shyness is by the thought. Not you. .
Realization of the unconditioned cannot be expressed in words. It is beyond words and beyond thought. Words and concept are needed to express the dharma within the conditioned world. Hence in heart sutra, it is stated that, ‘in true emptiness, there is no Four noble truths, no one born, no one dies or gets sick or grows old and no one attains because it is the unconditioned. But in the condition arising world, all such thing exist, example there are living beings, getting old, sick and die.
The ariyan disciples of the Buddha have 4 unique qualities and conducts: Of good conduct, right conduct, wise conduct and dutiful conduct.
The one who knows does not speak or talk frivolously. They only speak with understanding and wisdom when there is condition to speak.
To come to this existential world you need a karmically conditioned 5 aggregates of form and mind. This is the ‘vehicle and tool’ for you to come. Only with this form and mind, can you realize your self-nature (true nature). All being has this self-nature. The mundane mind is the consciousness trapped inside the physical body. It is for you to use to live life. Within this form and mind (near the heart area), there is a ‘gateway’ to your self-nature. This nature cannot come out and live life. This nature is not a being and is non-self because it is not a permanent unchanging entity. This self-nature can develop wisdom, understanding and awaken. When you realize the self- nature and awaken, you will know, the form and mind is not you. It is just a causal phenomenon.
The karmic force, rebirth consciousness and physical body – when these 3 conditions come together it will animate into a human being. Then when heart is formed, comes heartbeat and the karmic force. This then becomes a fully developed form and mind with all the senses while in the womb before being born into the world.
(The draft for this short notes were prepared by Sister Chong Phey Yuen.)
||Teoh Thu 190926
Understanding Dharma Cultivation and Meditation Youtube
(Short Notes pdf)
The Awareness nature is suchness (it is just a nature within) and there is nobody to be aware. This nature within is not a being and it cannot come out and live life. The moment one starts to perceive from this awareness nature, the mundane mind arises because perception is an aggregate of the mundane mind. But with 1st and 2nd turning initial wisdom (yonisomanasikara) borne of constant listening and contemplative reflection of the dharma, it will prompt you to have the requisite wisdom at the moment of sense experience to act wisely. Thus preventing your mind from stirring and reacting via delusion. Things are as they are, due to their conditions behind their arising. Therefore you can accept the reality of the moment. Whatever that arise within this existential world there are causes and conditions behind. So when you want things your way which is against nature’s law, you suffer. This is in line with the 1st noble truth reality of ‘not getting what you want’ is dukkha.
You must understand the nature’s laws that governs life and existence especially the law of karma. Venerable Assaji told Sariputta (who then became a sotapanna) that his teacher said, ‘whatever that arise, there are causes and conditions behind, and these causes and conditions have been explained by my teacher (the Buddha) through his 5 daily contemplations: 1) This body is of the nature to grow old for it has not gone beyond old age; 2) This body is of the nature to get sick because it has not gone beyond sickness and diseases; 3) This body is of the nature to die for it has not gone beyond death, it is not a permanent unchanging entity, hence not you; 4) All that you own and hold on to dearly will one day separate from you; 5) We are all born of our karma, heir to our karma, conditioned and supported by our karma, we are what we are due to our karma.
Law of karma – whenever happen in life the causes and conditions for their arising are mainly due to karma from the past. Thus you should accept the reality of the moment and not stir your thought unnecessarily so that there is no fear or anxiety, no blaming others and your mind is quiet, leading to clarity of mind. With this you can resolve the problem amicably via following N8FP and move on with your life smoothly.
Do what you need to do via wisdom. That is, need to repent and seek for forgiveness from all beings and Triple Gem, do it via reciting, ‘whomsoever from the distant past until now, whether knowingly or unknowingly that this nature of mine has caused them any karmic negativity, misery, suffering or mislead, I would like to sincerely ask for forgiveness. May my sincere request for forgiveness, be accepted by all’. I vow to repent via following the advice of the Buddha: to avoid all evil, do good and purify my mind through cultivating the Noble Eightfold Path. Radiate love and metta. With this, karmic obstruction can be overcome. Then Vow not to repeat all these evil, through keeping the 5 precepts. To purify mind one need to constantly listen to and contemplate the dharma and cultivate sincerely to straighten one’s views. After that, invoke power of merits (develop via your wholesome acts, thoughts and speech) for turn around and for other type of blessings like, ‘to always avoid the foolish/heedless, meet with the wise and enlightened ones, until Nibbana is realized soonest possible.
You can also modify the above to suite your need. For example, ‘by the power of whatever wholesomeness, that this nature of mine has cultivated since I know the dharma, may it arise causes and conditions for me (or my loved one’s) to recover to good health soonest possible. This is the dharma way that can help you improve your life and with this spiritual understanding you can also use it to help others as well.
With understanding, cultivate the 5 spiritual faculties to develop the meditation. With the 5 spiritual faculties developed, the mental hindrances are gone so there is no need to train or anchor the mind using skillful means (or object of meditation) to make the mind calm, peaceful and aware within. Just relax, maintain awareness, and the mind will be silent immediately. When your mind enters sati, you are very sensitive and all your seeing and hearing etc. will be in sati. You are able to see your bodily movements, nature’s phenomena and mental flows, all in sati, all in a continuous flow. Thus no more heedless thinking (lost in thought).
Ignorance will condition wrong thoughts (thoughts with the evil roots) to condition your fear, worry and anxiety. On the other hand when there is yoniso manasikara (wisdom at the moment of sense experience), you are aware and able to act according to wisdom.
The moment there is avijja (ignorance), thinking continues. For the wise, they only use the thinking mind to contemplate, reflect and arise the right thoughts. The mind is aware when contemplating. But for those with too much knowledge they tend to use a lot of their memory to act, and that is the reason why they cannot reflect or contemplate correctly. According to J. Krishnamurti, beware of the one who says ‘I know’ because there is nothing to know. All knowing borne of your views, opinions and conditioned thoughts are just knowledge.
Dhamma is akaliko, beyond thought beyond mind. Therefore ‘whenever there is a meditator, there is no meditation’. The meditator here is the egoic mind, the thought. Hence the thought cannot be in state of sati or awareness. Either you are aware or lost in thought. To meditate, you must understand and use your true mind but to live life you must understand and use your mundane mind.
Moment to moment, life passes by, what are you doing? Most people are too busy thinking, planning and worrying about life, not being in the moment, silently aware to truly living life. This is heedless living. But with the meditative mind, you are mindful, aware and silent within. This is heedful living. Brother Teoh shared that although he is currently sharing dharma in this class, but inside (his nature) is still and empty; his ‘nature’ shares naturally (straight from the heart that has the wisdom connected to it). Once awaken, the wisdom is connected to the form and mind hence making it different (wise). It is different from the one who uses memory and knowledge to act.
Silent mind is able to see the birth and formation of thought. Stability of mindfulness is needed. There is an inner awareness within. Observe without the observer (objective seeing), for the ‘observer’ is the observed! – Here the observer is the thought that perceives with an egoic mind (Subjective seeing). Thus the objective seeing is the pure seeing and the Buddha explained it using this words: ‘in the seeing there is only the seeing consciousness, no one to see as yet’. With this, one stays with the true mind, in pure awareness, to see things as they are and to awaken without the need for words. That is to see things as they are before the perception and without the observer, this is wisdom seeing. (‘The observer is the observed’ stated above is a J. krishnamurti’s quote).
Buddha merely shows the way. Unless you cultivate yourself and awaken, you cannot understand. You will be more confused if you use the mundane mind to understand.
There are 3 types of seeing as taught in the Mahayana teaching: 1) mundane seeing: ‘see mountain as mountain’. 2) The direct or wisdom seeing via the silent mind, to see thing as it is, with the pure awareness/perception (without the words): thus See Mountain as not mountain 3) Suchness seeing with true wisdom: ‘Seeing Mountain as mountain again’ – as one blends into life within the existential world of convention, one must have the wisdom to accord and flow with conditions and go beyond duality (right and wrong).
In the Surangama sutta, it is said, ‘perception of form is consciousness, whereas its non-perception is wisdom’. When no mundane mind is involved, there is direct seeing via the silent mind, to see things as they are without words and concept borne of perception, and that is wisdom and understanding. But when you perceive form under mundane seeing (i.e. without the wisdom), the mundane mind (with delusion) arises, then one label what one see with words and concept and that is knowledge borne of mundane consciousness.
A very stable daily mindfulness (sati) is needed to see the birth and creation of thought. The pure vinnana (or pure awareness/perception) is the one that can allow one’s nature to see things as they are (seeing truth). With sati and initial wisdom, at the moment of sense experience (the pure consciousness before content input), feeling can remains as pure feeling. It does not lead to craving. This comes with understanding because the unwavering mind is borne of wisdom. But as your mind stirs with likes and dislikes, borne of mental hindrances conditioned by self-delusion, this mental hindrances will hinder your mind from entering the meditative state of inner peace and inner awareness.
The mandarin saying 心为根本 (xin wei ken pen), means you have to start your cultivation from basic, meaning start from mind (xin wei ken pen) and you must understand what this mind is all about (its 2 aspects) so that you can understand clearly who you are and what you are? If you can’t even understand that you have a self-nature and everything arises from that self-nature via creation by the mundane mind (which is dependent originating and condition arising) then you are being superficial in your cultivation and you are wasting your time. Whether wholesome, unwholesome, evil and non-evil, etc. they all arise from here, this is basic understanding.” This basic understanding of the self-nature and the mundane mind is also the reason why Sakyamuni Buddha, said “Mind is the fore-runner of all things. Mind is chief, when mind arises everything arises.” Hence Good and bad, wholesome and unwholesome, etc. – they all arise via the mundane mind’s creation. And Bodhidharma said, ‘if this basic teaching also you don’t understand, then how can you meditate? Do you follow? This basic understanding teaches you, that your mind via words and thoughts creates duality of good and bad, wholesome and unwholesome, etc. and that is why you have to start from there. Brother Teoh urges kalyanamitta to read the transcript book, lesson 75 of his 6th Patriarch platform sutra, page 13 onwards to develop the better understanding.
Question on how to transcend duality and the middle path is also clearly explained from Page 24 onward of the same book.
The zen story of Bodhidharma, states that all cultivation starts from understanding the mundane mind which creates everything is very important. It is similar to Sakyamuni’s Dhamapada sayings verses 1 and 2: ‘Mind is the forerunner of all things, mind is chief, when mind arises, everything arise. When you are heedless, you will act with delusion thus causing suffering. But when you are heedful, your mind is beautiful and happiness will follow you like the shadow that never leaves you.’ Since you hold the key to your own life destiny. To be happy or unhappy is entirely your own choice. Therefore it is important for you to choose wisely. People suffer due to their lack of understanding because they are not taught such dharma teaching.
Both mundane and supra mundane aspects of life are summarized in the 4 noble truths. With this understanding one will understand the secret of life, then one can live life beautifully and meaningfully. This 4 noble truths is so complete and unique that when Brother Teoh came to know this teaching when he was young (1971), he never turned back and cultivated it all the way through. The 4 noble truths are:
- 1st Noble truth: concerning mundane realities of life and existence: There is this noble truth of dukkha explaining the prevalence of suffering and the realities of life and existence. All mundane happenings are part of by the 8 realities of birth, old age, sickness and death, separation from loved ones & one’s prized possessions, being with people you don’t like, when things don’t go your way, your expectation is life are not fulfilled, when you cannot get what you want and finally, ‘in short it is due to your self-delusion which conditions you to grasp and cling onto the 5 aggregate of form and mind, thinking that is you, is the cause of
- 2nd Noble Truth: Cause of arising of suffering which is craving borne of self-delusion, conditioned by
- 3rd Noble Truth: Enlightenment in the here and now is possible and suffering need not be when you have the wisdom. (Supra mundane aspect).
- 4th Noble Truth: How to end suffering through cultivating the noble 8-fold path to live the noble life of an enlightened being. This is the supra mundane aspect of life.
(The draft for this short notes were prepared by Sister Chong Phey Yuen.)
||Teoh Thu 190919
Daily Mindfulness & Understanding Cultivation Part 3 (Without Thought that is your True Mind) Youtube
(Short Notes pdf)
Your original state of mind (without the thought) is your true nature. This is your meditative mind. With this understanding, to meditate is very easy, just Relax, aware, and silent (or let things be). When you are silent within, you can see how thoughts actually arise, due to conditions and it is dependent originating. There is no ‘thinker’ behind the thought, hence it is non-self (anatta). Thought is respond to memory. If your daily mindfulness and silent mind is very stable, you can also see the birth and formation of thought and this thought (namarupa) is the 2nd aspect of the 5 aggregate of form and mind. Initially it is just the pure vinanam (pure consciousness) before the content of consciousness goes in to form the thought (namarupa).
How does thought arise? Why is thought limited? You are initially the spacious awareness without a center. When you shrink your spacious awareness into a small space to perceive something, thought becomes limited. Initially this is just pure awareness before the content of consciousness goes in. That is ‘in the seeing, there is only seeing consciousness’ no one to see as yet. But with your views, opinions and mental conditioning, the wrong content of consciousness are inputted through perception and memory, and this cause the pure awareness/pure consciousness to become an egoic thought. This happens very fast (when you lack a stable daily mindfulness and the initial wisdom or yoniso manasikara) borne of the 1st and 2nd turning wisdom. Reason why there is grasping to the 5 aggregates of form and mind due to ignorance, leading to dukkha.
In the 12 links (Paticca samuppada) or Dependent Origination teaching the Buddha said, ‘avijja paccaya sankhara; sankhara paccaya vinnanam; vinnana paccaya nama rupam; …….’. That is ‘Dependent on ignorance (ignorant of truth), mental activities or thinking arise. When thinking arise, mind makes contact with brain, then just like the physics experiment, upon contact the light bulb lights up. The lighting up is vinnanam i.e. the pure ‘thought’ consciousness before the input of its content. In Satipatthana sutta, Buddha used the term citta, meaning the pure vinnanam with its content. Thus the Buddha instructed the monks as follows: when the content of consciousness has delusion or lust (greed) or hatred, you must be aware.
To meditate is not to create more thoughts. Instead you need sati (the silent mind) to see the essential dharma, to know who you are and how you function as a human being, and to know clearly the Paticca samuppada (the Law of Dependent Origination) links and teaching clearly.
The following Mahayana Dharma saying by Master Bo Yuen Chang Lau of WPCS are very important: –
- 心静 (xin jing) – Still or silent mind, the meditative mind;
- 无 念 是 真 心 (wu nian shi zhen xin) – without thought that is the true mind;
- 动 念 即 无 明 (dong nian ji wu ming) – stirring of the thought is delusion.
When you think a lot, it means there is ignorance. You lack wisdom and you are heedless. (Instead the enlightened ones only think when they need to, or else they are most of the time silent within).
For your meditative mind to arise, you need to have the initial wisdom, the 5 spiritual faculties, and the daily mindfulness developed. The reason being, our mind can only do one thing at a time; i.e. it is either aware (within the moment) borne of wisdom or it is loss in thought (preoccupied with the thinking due to avijja or ignorant). When it is aware it is with the true mind (without thought). Whereas when you are loss in thoughts, it is with the mundane mind heedlessly thinking and proliferating.
For those who can’t have the meditative mind developed, they cannot meditate. Reason why they need an object of meditation or a skillful means to anchor and train the mind. Most of them focus their mind to do Samatha meditation via the 40 objects of meditation so that their mind is not heedless (think a lot) and restless. One can only be mindful when the 5 spiritual faculties are there, otherwise the mental hindrances will be there to hinder their mind from entering the meditative state of inner peace and inner awareness. The object of meditation is only their initial skillful means to help suppress their obsessive thoughts. This is suppression via a conditioned state of focusing (concentration)! Not borne of wisdom. Reason why their defilements borne of ignorant cannot be rooted out because they are all suppressed by the concentration or energy field.
The 5 spiritual faculties make one calm, composed and ever mindful and it can enable one to understand spiritual teachings easily. The 5 spiritual faculties are:
- Faith/Saddha – your faith deepens by knowing clearly who the Buddha is? He is not only enlightened but fully He is perfect in wisdom and virtue, he understands life completely and his rather unique and beautiful teaching can liberate the mind of living beings from all suffering.
- Spiritual zeal/Viriya – the spiritual tenacity to cultivate (borne of seeing the importance of such cultivation), to make you awake. You need a good daily religious routine to train your mind to be ever mindful in midst of life. When you do the formal meditation, it is to train your mind enter sati and to realize passaddhi.
- Sati/mindfulness – awareness (without thought), before the input of the content of consciousness. When you are in sati there is no thought hence there is no negativity of mind states.
- Samadhi – mind that is collected and unwavering. (because of Samadhi, when you see something, your mundane mind does not stir. Then you can see things as they are, and you will not stir your mind to act according to memory (which is not acting at all) through inputting the content of consciousness according to your memory’s accumulated views, opinions and mental conditioning which leads to evil roots and wrong thoughts.
- Wisdom/panna – will arise when I can see things as they are with Samadhi leading to the last enlightenment factor of upekkha (equanimity borne of wisdom).
Thus it is important to train your mind to be ever mindful (without thought) by cultivating the 5 spiritual faculties and the daily mindfulness. You need this because once you enter life, your 6 sense doors are fully engaged so if you cannot be in this meditative state when you are in the formal meditation then it will be near to impossible for you to be mindful while you are fully engaged in life.
It is important to be mindful of your 6 internal and 6 external sense bases to understand how you function as a human being, because you interact with the world through your sense bases. When you are aware of all these, you will know how you become lustful, fearful, emotional, angry etc. You are able to see them all in your meditation – all the essential dharma as taught by the Buddha: the 5 spiritual faculties, 5 mental hindrances, 5 aggregates of form and mind, 4 noble truths, 7 factors of enlightenment, 10 steps of the avijja sutta, 3 turning of the 4 Noble truth wisdom, etc.
The Dharma is akaliko (beyond time and beyond thought) i.e. timeless. Thus you cannot use thought to meditate to realize the dharma which is beyond thought. You need sati to realize this true dharma.
Thought is matter, thought is trapped energy (E=mc2). Thought can see form; form cannot see thought. Thus thought is of higher intelligence than form. From 0 comes 1 (the 1st thought of ignorant) then from 1 comes infinity. When we meditate, awareness can see thought but thought cannot see awareness. Thus awareness has higher intelligence. Thought arises from your true nature. From this oneness nature, all things come about.
When you walk this path of dharma, you develop wisdom leading to virtues, naturally. Without wisdom, there is no genuine virtues. True Virtues must be accompanied with wisdom otherwise it is virtue according to oneself.
Human beings have two minds: the mundane mind and the supra mundane mind. Supra mundane mind will realize that the 5 aggregates are empty (empty nature of existence) thus non-self and impermanent.
In our daily cultivation, we start from understanding the mundane mind via comprehending Dhammapada verses 1 and 2. According to the Buddha, Verse 1: ‘Mind is the forerunner of all things; when mind arises, all things arises. If you act, speak and think with the unwholesome or evil mind that has the 3 evil roots of Greed, Hatred and Delusion, then suffering will follow you as the wheels that follow the hoof print of the ox that draws the cart. Whereas Verse 2: if you speak, act and think with a pure mind (free of the 3 evil roots), happiness will follow you like a shadow that never leaves you. Thus you need to train the mundane mind to be heedful.
Your life, you hold the key to your own life’s destiny. To be happy or unhappy is entirely your choice. So choose to be happy, choose to develop wholesomeness, to train your mind to be heedful and constantly meditative always via following the advice of the Buddha to Do good, avoid all evil and purify the mind.
But when it comes to meditation, we start with understanding the true mind. Meditate to realize and connect to our true nature. Wisdom that arise via the direct seeing is connected to your 5 aggregate of form and mind and thus the form and mind (or human being) is enlightened, but it is not you because the 5 aggregate of form and mind is not a permanent unchanging entity. As this 5 aggregate is no longer deluded, thus there is no more suffering. This is how awakening happens.
If you plant the seed of wholesomeness, you will reap the fruit of goodness. On the other hand, evil begets evil. Thus it is important to keep the minimum 5 precepts. This will enable you to avoid all the major evils. If you violate these precepts, karmic fruition will surely hit back. Out of love and compassion for human beings, Buddha taught the 5 precepts. Then cultivate wholesomeness, and develop mindfulness and wisdom to purify mind to have the good life. To live the 3rd phase of dharma –Pativedha dharma (life of an enlightened being).
In avijja sutta, sense restraint is vital. With sense restraint you can’t break your precepts. This comes about after having listening to the true dharma and then investigated (via constant reflection, contemplation and inquiry) into them to develop the faith and the initial wisdom (yonisomanasikara) borne of 1st and 2nd turning wisdom. Real meditation only begins when sati sampajanna (mindfulness and clear comprehension) has stabilized. With this, one can keep to precepts naturally, as one knows the consequence from not doing so.
With wisdom, thought may arise but no more proliferation due to wrong view and self-delusion. You are aware and mindful at the moment of sense experience most of the time and this yonisomanasikara will prompt and guide you, on how to act according to wisdom, following Noble 8-fold path. When you perceive something, wisdom sees it just ‘as it is’. Suchness.
Qi Xin Dong Nian” (起心动念) – the arising of mind, creates thinking hence stirring of the mind comes to be! Or in Theravāda term it is “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” – “Ignorance conditions activities of mind” (the first two links of the paṭicca-samuppāda)
Originally before the stirring, the true mind is already in the meditative state of inner peace, silence and still awareness within. So the stirring of the mundane mind comes about only when we do not have the wisdom and understanding of this fundamental principle. Through our own ignorance, we cause our mundane mind to arise via our reactions to sense experiences at the moment of sense experience. Train the mind to have the silent inner awareness and clarity to see all these clearly then there is no more delusion and we can just “let things be” then no more suffering or problem and tranquility will return by not trying to do anything via the thought to suppress or control. I.e. just be patient to maintain the ‘silent mind’ with clear inner awareness within, to let everything return to its original state before its stirring. Always remember; when there is no delusion or ignorance there is no stirring of the mind because “only wisdom frees the mind”. i.e. the moment you have wisdom, your mind will not stir and you are free, so no need to do anything after that because things are just the way they are! – Suchness or Tathatā.
(The draft for this short notes were prepared by Sister Chong Phey Yuen.)
||Teoh Thu 190912
Daily Mindfulness & Understanding Cultivation Part 2 (The Three Bodies of the Buddha) Youtube
(Short Notes pdf)
Bro Teoh continued his sharing from his transcript book, `the 75th lesson of the Sixth Patriarch Platform Sutra.’ He explained again that the Mahayana chanting is to be done with awareness and understanding until the chanting develops the spiritual faculties of Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi and Panna.
Having a good daily religious routine covering morning and evening formal meditation, chanting, paying respect to triple gem and continuous mindfulness training throughout the day will help develop the 5 spiritual faculties. Bro Teoh mentioned the case of Sis Adeline who benefited a lot because of her faith and consistent effort leading to her ability to develop a very stable daily mindfulness to help her progress.
The mind has to be trained to be heedful in the midst of life following Dhammapada Verse 21 (Heedfulness is the path to the deathless, heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful do not die, the heedless are as if dead.)
He stressed again the importance of training the mind. When one understands, just do the necessary and don’t try to know. It’s not about right or wrong but more of whether we understand what we are doing in the name of meditation. If the spiritual faculties are not there, train until they arise. Once they are there, there is no need to do anything. If they are not there, continue to train the mind until mind enters sati.
At every moment of sense experience, when one is in sati, there is clarity, sensitivity and understanding. Then, develop clear comprehension (sampajanna) to avoid deviation during cultivation leading to wrong mindfulness.
Who wants to know? It is the thought, the ego which manifests without you knowing it. So it is about whether one understands what one is doing in the name of meditation.
Instead of waiting for the teacher to praise us, understand what we are doing. The real meditation is not only the formal practice but it includes the cultivation of the daily mindfulness while in the midst of life. It is therefore necessary that we have a good daily religious routine and be mindful throughout the day. Pay respect to Triple Gem mindfully, doing daily chores mindfully, and maintain mindfulness of all actions and movements in the present moment. As there is a tendency for us to use the brain to think a lot, it is advisable to bring attention to the heart area and develop inner awareness from there. Whenever we lapse into heedlessness, bring attention back to the heart area and be aware of the outside from this area of inner awareness.
Meditation is a full time job. But we do not need to retire from any job to develop the meditation. If we attend retreats because of mind having problems, this will not be effective if we attend a retreat just to feel good, more peaceful and calm, only to lose the calmness when our minds get agitated again while in the midst of life. The real meditation is cultivating the initial wisdom leading to sati sampajanna. Cultivation must be supported by wisdom, mindfulness and clear comprehension to enable one to awaken to the truth.
The three bodies of the Buddha are: – the functional body (nirmanakaya) which performs the function of the Buddha, the spiritual body (sambogayakaya, where all the virtue, wisdom and understanding the Buddha had perfected in the past is stored) and finally the Dharma body (dharmakaya) which enables the Buddha to share the dharma with the world.
His functional body (even though dependent-originating) will enable the Buddha to perform his function as a Buddha to teach the dharma to the world but it is not him, for it goes the way of nature. It is subjected to old age, sickness and death.
The Buddha inherited his spiritual understanding and perfections through the Sambogayakaya. Hence, when the Buddha finally attained Buddhahood, He uttered The Paean of Joy (Dhammapada Verses 153, 154).
PAEAN OF JOY
Through many a birth I wandered in this saṃsāra (endless cycle of births and deaths),
Seeking but not finding, the builder of this house. Sorrowful is repeated birth.
O house builder! You are seen. You shall build no house again All your rafters are broken.
Your ridge-pole shattered. My mind has attained the unconditioned. Achieved is the end of craving.
Bro Teoh explained the difference between beings who are reborn with and without the Bodhisattva vows. For the former, it is via their karma and their Bodhisattva vows that conditioned their rebirth via a pure mind (without avijja) borne of love and compassion for the limitless living beings which they vowed to take across. For the latter (non-Bodhisattva), it is via normal karma that conditions their rebirth with avijja.
Not everyone is able to inherit their spiritual nature’s perfections unless they can connect to their true nature due to their Bodhisattva vows taken from earlier lives. For Bro Teoh’s case, he was able to inherit his past cultivations from his spiritual nature because of his past cultivation and vows. His unique past cultivation and understanding, enable him to have the conditions to meet the right teachers, guides and great being’s nature to connect to his true nature early. Not long after that, his mundane mind collapsed and his nature shine forth and became very different. He also mentioned that we will not be able to comprehend all this until later.
Bro Teoh explained what he meant by ‘meditation is a full-time job’. It doesn’t mean, we have to retire from our job. Because mindfulness can be develop in all postures while working and living life, regardless of whether we are working or retired. It only involves the understanding of the domain of meditation. We do what we have to do via following the 10 steps as listed in the enlightenment sequence of the avijja sutta. One need to attend dharma classes, cultivate and heed the advice of the Buddha. Live a life following the dharma way. The dharma way is the righteous way. To take care of karma via keeping precepts and to cultivate all virtues and blessings.
Most people only come to listen to the dharma when they face problems. But once their problems are resolved, they forget what they should do. They have not understood the real meaning of the Four Noble Truth. Hence, suffering will arise again and again when the conditions are there.
Cultivation can be equated to learning cooking. If one only reads the recipe but never tries it out, then it is just book knowledge. The same applies to understanding the dharma. As long as one does not know how to apply what has been learnt, it will only be knowledge. Understanding is not rigid. There is no short cut to cultivation. The dharma learnt has to be put into practice, leading to awakening for it to be useful.
The swimming analogy is very good. Initially, we use a float to keep us afloat. For meditation, we use a skilful means such as anapanasati or any object of meditation to anchor the mind. Knowing that our body’s natural state is buoyancy (as it is lighter than water), then we can let go of the float to swim. We don’t have to learn to float. Similarly, when we understand that, without thought (during meditation), one is already aware. So there is no need to hold onto the skilful means or learn how to be aware to meditate anymore. Hence, just as swimming is to be develop with understanding, meditation uses the same principle.
When the mind is quiet and mindful in the midst of life, we can see clearly how we are caught up in the vicious cycle of seeking, wanting to know, too eager to progress, etc. which arises more craving in the mind. With this understanding, we only need to cultivate sincerely and diligently for the appropriate conditions to unfold. Once the mind enters sati, we can see the subtle defilements clearly and how they condition us to think, speak and react to sense experience.
For Bro Teoh when his mundane mind collapsed, the 3 universal characteristics were so apparent to him every moment, every instant. However, without the direct seeing borne of a silent mind, it is very difficult for us to understand this truth. It is important to train our mind until it enters sati while in the formal practice. Otherwise, while in the midst of life, you don’t stand a chance to have such mind state because the six sense doors are fully engaged while living life.
Initial wisdom is very important. As mentioned in the Avijja Sutta: associating with dharma friends, listening and contemplating the dharma (to develop the first and second turning wisdom), faith in the Triple Gem, yoniso manasikara, daily mindfulness with clear comprehension, sense restraint, the 3 ways of right conduct and cultivating 4 foundations of mindfulness are important steps leading to the arising of the 7 factors of enlightenment. As they keep on arising, this will lead to the enlightenment in the here and the now.
Bro Teoh kept reminding fellow Kalyanamittas to constantly listen to the true dharma again and again and cultivate following the 10 steps as listed in the Avijja Sutta. To write it down and practice seriously which is what most of us lack. Without the initial wisdom our mind cannot enters sati so how can the daily mindfulness be developed? If there is this understanding, one will have the urgency to do all these during this sasana, one will be determined to cultivate sincerely and seriously from now onwards.
(Above draft short notes was prepared by Puan Chee)
||Teoh Thu 190905
Daily Mindfulness & Understanding Cultivation
(Short Notes pdf)
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 of consciousness. 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)
||Teoh Thu 190829
(Short Notes pdf)
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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)
||Teoh Thu 190822
How to cultivate the Ten Paramitas Youtube
(Short Notes pdf)
Bro Teoh explained to a newcomer the importance of having the five spiritual faculties of mind needed to overcome the opposite 5 mental hindrances of mind, which hinder the mind from entering the meditative state of inner peace and inner awareness. During the meditation session, Bro Teoh guided those who were new on how to train their mind to develop the meditation. This mind sweeping method is a skillful mean, used to decondition the heedless thinking mind to calm it down. Then develop anapanasati to stabilize their sati.
After meditation, Bro Teoh went through the outline short notes of his 18th August 2019, SJBA Sunday dharma talk on the topic: ‘The 3 turnings of the 4 Noble Truths as taught by Lord Buddha’. This dharma talk was very comprehensive, clear and good and one can view it at this YouTube video link : https://youtu.be/cHd59b3UF3E
As long as living beings do not have the Dharma understanding, the egoic mind (borne of self-delusion) is always active. But this self-delusion (sakayaditti) will be rooted out when one becomes an Ariya. Without wisdom, everything we do, there is always the sense of a self (an atta) to condition our selfish intention (for me or not for me). It is this personality (the Ego) that give rise to the evil roots of Greed, Hatred and Delusion.
The ego desires things, gets angry and is hurt because of self-delusion. This causes one to stir and react to sense experiences. But with the dharma, one becomes different because the dharma can transform living beings via wisdom. Life then becomes meaningful and one can have so much joy, gratitude, respect and love for the Buddha.
The Buddha’s teaching is priceless because it can lead one to awakening. Only great beings with loving kindness can offer the dharma for free to the world. Most will think of making money first. It is rare to find people with genuine love and compassion, who can freely contribute to the world (without any selfish intention). So, we are indeed very blessed to have received the Buddha’s teaching for free.
Without wisdom, we cannot resolve our afflictions. If one cannot resolve suffering, then calling oneself a sotapan does not make sense. Without planting wholesomeness and blessing, how can one be blessed with good life? To be blessed with good life, we have to keep cultivating merits and virtues.
Bro Teoh related, how blessed his family was. All these are possible was because of their past life cultivation and dharma understanding.
By taking the Bodhisattva vows, we strengthen our faith in The Triple Gem through planting the Bodhi seed deep within our hearts (nature) to arise the causes and conditions for our segmented life to keep on receiving such beautiful teaching of Lord Buddha life after life. Bro Teoh advised fellow Kalyanamittas to read through his transcript blue book, ‘Cultivating the Bodhisattva way’ again and again so as not to miss out on this window of opportunity make possible by the present Buddha Sasana. Reaffirming the vows with great faith and sincerity will keep us firmly on the Bodhisattva path.
When one walks the Bodhisattva path, the cultivation is very much more rewarding. Not only can one realize the cessation within one’s nature, one can also perfect the vows to become a Samma Sambuddha.
The vows taken by Amitabha Buddha can turn existence into pure land. Whenever Bro Teoh heard the recitation of Amitabha Buddha’s name (‘A mi to fo, A mi to fo, …’), there was strong mindfulness and much joy in Bro Teoh’s heart.
Starting on the 8th September, 2019, our Sunday class will use a new book: `The Path to Truth for the Modern-day Bodhisattva Practitioner’ as cultivated by Bodhisattvas. It will be a very beautiful sharing. The next new book for our Tuesday class is the ‘Sutra of Innumerable Meanings’. This sutra is the first book of the Threefold Lotus Sutra or fǎ huá sān bù jīng (法 華 三 部 経). There is a whole chapter’s teaching covering ‘Virtue’ as cultivated by great beings (Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas) within that sutra.
As we go through the books, we can develop deeper understanding of the teaching and the cultivation leading to fast progress and further evolution.
Sister Angie asked the question, `As practitioners, when can we start the perfection of the ten paramattas?’
Bro Teoh answered that initially, most cultivators do not have a clear picture of this cultivation. It is advisable to read through his blue transcript book on ‘Cultivating the Bodhisattva way’ first, to develop the full understanding. By taking the four basic vows, we have started the cultivation of these ten perfections, which are basically cultivating all the appropriate virtue. But it is only when wisdom has been developed can one develop real virtues. Therefore these virtues or perfections and vows can only be perfected when wisdom has been perfected. There is no true virtue without wisdom. Without wisdom, the evil roots will be very strong.
Wisdom has many levels too. The sainthood way is relatively much simpler. But people feel offended when this is mentioned. The perfection of the Bodhisattva way is very extensive as such it is incomparable. As one progresses, wisdom keeps on arising.
The thought tells us that the Bodhisattva path is very long. One should instead strive on to cultivate following the 3 hallmarks of Master Hui Neng’s teaching (of no thought, no marks and no dwelling) which is similar to the four famous dharma stanzas as stated in The Diamond Sutra to speed up one’s cultivation. The famous 4 stanzas are :
一 切 有 爲 法, (All are conditioned dharma or phenomena);
如 夢 幻 泡 影, (They are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, and shadows);
如 露 亦 如 電, (Like dew and like lightning flash);
應 作 如 是 觀. (One should contemplate them thus).
If one can understand and teach the above 4 stanzas, one’s merits are immeasurable. When one reaches the cultivation stage of no thought, it means that one has realized one’s true mind. By then the three universal characteristics of impermanence, non-self and suffering state will become very clear.
The five stages of Bodhi mind developments start with the planting the Bodhi seed deep within our nature when we take the Bodhisattva vows.
Many people misunderstand the deep meaning of the perfection of renunciation. They think renunciation only means to renounce the world to become a monk or a nun. The true meaning of renunciation is very deep. It includes renouncing all things within the phenomenon world of consciousness. This perfection of renunciation has to be perfected for one to fulfil the 2nd vow of the Bodhisattva to endure and severe all suffering.
One has to complete the cultivation of Love and Compassion to cultivate the 1st Bodhisattva vow.
Once one had completed the fulfilment of the third vow of the Bodhisattva, the fourth vow of perfecting the ten perfections to become a Samma Sambuddha will become fairly easy.
Bro Teoh mentioned that, all of us are so blessed to be born in this ‘golden era or age’ where Science and technology has enable us to experience such great civilization advancement which our parents and grandparents were not able to witness. With this high tech revolution of ours giving rise to great information technologies and AI advancement, our world and civilization had advanced so fast. The world of sights and sounds, high level of sensuality, travels, sports, foods, tickets to indulgence, beautiful homes, hotel and resorts, etc. are so convenience nowadays for those who have the means. One can truly live life to the fullest and one can also experience all the pristine beauties and wonders of life.
According to J. Krishnamurti, for the planetary consciousness to transform for the better, the individual must change and transform for the better. If at least 1% of the world’s population has the spiritual understanding, then we can really have a civilization which will be really beautiful. Human Beings would evolve to another level to become super humans. Even if our planet gets destroyed, it would not be a problem anymore. Because by then, one can even travel faster than the speed of light to stay at other places.
But scientists have yet to explore the field of consciousness which is capable of bringing mankind to such an evolved level. One needs meditative wisdom to go into this field. Scientists still use thought to come up with inventions such as AI.
Bro Teoh emphasized the importance of spiritual understanding to go hand in hand with the fast-paced technological advancement. Otherwise, problems will arise and the planet is at risk of being self-destruction, due to human greed, divisions, conflicts, arguments and wars, etc.
Bro Teoh cracked a joke when PG mentioned, she may not be around to witness the evolved human species of this golden age. Bro Teoh said that, one just needs to go to broteoh.com website and cultivate following his blue transcript blue (‘Cultivating the Bodhisattva way’) to learn how to come back to this Buddha sasana again. As one explores this possibility, one will come to realize that the information given in the book is like so familiar. But during that time, it would be a new segmented form and mind with a new body and a different gender because PG vows to be born as a male in future.
At the end of this sharing, Bro Teoh lead all Kalyanamittas to share their merits with Bro Siah Wen Chiang (Bro Siah Chee Way’s son) for his quick recovery to good health from his recent surgery.
(The above draft outline short notes was prepared by Puan Chee)
||Teoh Thu 190815
(Short Notes pdf)
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.
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.
Bro. Teoh replied: Can you explain how you are able to see the 3 universal characteristics?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Adam’s 1st question is about fear. Which category of the 3 evil roots is fear classified under?
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.
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.
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.
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 forward 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.
Adam’s 3rd question: How do we cultivate goodness (like healing people) wisely?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Regarding the recent protestors and unrest in Hong Kong. People are just the way they are. Not right or wrong. These are just their views, their opinions of things, their conditioning and their ideology. When they are so conditioned, they will react that way, that’s it, finished! Let society evolved on its own. We can contribute by radiate love and metta and sharing merits after our dharma classes. We do our best, we share and transfer merits to make the world a better place through goodness and virtue in our heart. It is important that every individual must change for the better in order to have a better collective consciousness with more understanding, virtue and less negativity. This is also the reason why J. Krishnamurti said, ‘the individual must change, for society to change as we are the summation of the collective consciousness of the society’.
May there be love, joy and peace within their heart. Keep on radiating all these wholesomeness and virtue and it will have its effect. Radiate to all beings starting from your love ones, our kalyanamittas, and cultivators and to all beings on this planet, our mother Earth. Wishing everybody have the good understanding of life and a kind heart to bring about more peace to all. May all beings on this planet have more goodness and kindness in their hearts.
All of you have this kind heart but you do not know how to generate it, to make it strong and powerful so that it can open up and be a blessing to the world.
(The above draft outline short notes was prepared by Sister Tammy)
||Teoh Thu 190808
Understanding Daily Mindfulness & the 7 factors of Eenlightenment / Awareness of unawareness is Sati Youtube
(Short Notes pdf)
Sis Angie shares that there is more clarity in her practice. More awareness. Whenever the mind wanders off, she is able to bring it back.
Bro Teoh: The moment you are aware that you are not aware; that is sati. The moment you realise that you are not paying attention, that is attention. Attention of inattention, is attention.
To develop daily mindfulness, we must start by constantly reminding our self of the need to be constantly aware. We must determine to be aware throughout the day (ever-mindful/constantly aware). After developing the daily mindfulness, until it is very stable, our seeing will become very different. It is like suddenly, we can see all the external sense data and our internal mental movements (emotions/mental intentions/etc.) very clearly. It will dawn upon us that before we understand the dharma, all these are habitual heedless thinking borne of our mental stirring caused by avijja. Without wrong views or avijja (ignorant) there will be no mental stirring or reaction to sense experience. Why does one reacts to sense experience? – Because their mind lack wisdom and it is restless due to its inability to understand and accept the realities of the moment for ‘things are just the way they truly are’.
When there is wisdom to accept the reality of the moment (to understand the causes and conditions behind every phenomena), there will be peace within the mind and one can be peaceful from moment to moment (having true ability to make peace with all that transpires) while in the midst of living life.
This is learning to see things as they truly are because ‘people are just the way they are’ (deluded people do deluded things, etc.) and the ‘world is the world’ (when conditions are such things will be such). This is right view.
However, the untrained mind has strong habitual tendencies (borne of habitual reactions to what we see, hear, recall from memory, etc.) when we lack the 5 spiritual faculties. And because of that, their untrained mind becomes agitated and heedless very fast. Ever so quick to form opinions, argue, take sides and fall into the duality trap of right/wrong, good/bad, kind/cruel, clean/dirty, fragrant/foul, pleasant/unpleasant, wholesome/unwholesome etc.
Once we have the stability of Sati, we will have the understanding to see things differently, without the mental reaction and stirring like before. Our mind becomes calmer, more peaceful and quieter. There is more understanding, leading to more equanimity of mind, then there is more joy and happiness in our heart. This is heedful living. No longer easily agitated, panicky, fearful and unhappy, which is heedless living.
Stability of daily mindfulness allows us to understand the form and mind clearly. (How one input the content of consciousness and cause the mundane mind to stir and arise.)
The Mundane mind goes the way of nature, i.e. it is impermanent, it comes and it goes, arises and passes away. If we are deluded, it has power over us. It can conditions us to stir/react to sense experiences and create the evil roots of greed, hatred, delusion (especially selfishness and sakayaditthi or self-delusion).
As long as thoughts are active, the egoic mind borne of wrong view is still there.
The real meditation only starts, when our daily mindfulness has stabilised.
Sis Angie has made some progress but she should continue to stabilise her daily mindfulness. When her daily mindfulness has stabilized, she will be different because by then “everything she do” she will be aware and her awareness will be very stable. It’s like, the phenomenon and her awareness moves as one. This is specific-phenomena awareness. With this specific-phenomena awareness, the mind no longer interferes (with its views, opinions, memories and conditioning). Should you choose to understand what it is, you may perceive it through the memory lens, then it stops (no further proliferation of thoughts and emotions, etc.)
Having a good religious routine is crucial, to cultivate daily mindfulness, throughout the day.
As a revision, the class did a review of their previous Thursday’s 1 August 2019 outline short notes.
With the daily mindfulness, one become more aware and more attentive. There is also more clarity and the mind is more sensitive. Then through constant contemplation and reflection the 2nd turning wisdom of cintamaya panna will arise. This is followed by the direct seeing, then the wisdom (bhavanamaya panna) that arise is no longer just at the knowledge and contemplative level, but at a more penetrative insight level.
When mindfulness stabilized, the awareness within becomes so sensitive that even the slightest movement within, before the “like/dislike” arises, can be clearly felt. We can feel that the stirring is about to begin. And since we have contemplated deep enough to know that this stirring will lead to suffering, then the initial wisdom (yoniso manasikara) already developed will prompt us, at the moment of sense experience, to cause the mundane mind not to stir like before. With yoniso manasikara, avijja becomes attenuated/weakened, hence weakening sankhara
leading to less and less heedless thinking within our mind.
With that understanding, we can develop sense restraint, leading to more calmness, and less sankhara (or stirring of mind). Being more present and aware, the space between thoughts start to lengthen, resulting in more peace, clarity, stillness and tranquillity of mind.
The meditative mind must be a “free mind” which is silent, collected and unwavering (in Samadhi) but not in concentration so that the mental hindrances are not suppressed. So that it can see things as they are clearly to develop the wisdom via the direct seeing.
Cultivation following the 10 steps of the Avijja sutta’s enlightenment sequence was re emphasis by Bro Teoh.
Reading the “PAEON OF JOY” (recited by the Buddha after his enlightenment underneath the Bodhi tree) from page 11 of our Chanting book.
UDĀNA GĀTHĀ PAEON OF JOY
Aneka jāti saṃsāraṃ, Sandhāvissaṃ anibbisaṃ, Gaha kārakaṃ gavesanto, dukkhā jāti punappunaṃ, Gaha kāraka diṭṭhosi puna gehaṃ na kāhasi, Sabbā te phāsukā bhaggā gaha kūtaṃ visaṅkhitaṃ, Visaṅkhāra gataṃ cittaṃ taṇhānaṃ khaya majjhagā ti
Through many a birth I wandered in this saṃsāra (endless cycle of births and deaths), seeking but not finding, the builder of the house. Sorrowful is repeated birth. O house builder! You are seen. You shall build no house again. All your rafters are broken. Your ridge-pole is shattered. My mind has attained the unconditioned. Achieved is the end of craving.
Reading of “Pancasatavipassakabhikkhu Vatthu” from Dhammapada Verse 170:
Yatha pubbulakam passe, yatha passe maracikam, evam lokam avekkhantam, maccuraja na passati.
If a man looks at the world (i.e., the five khandhas) in the same way as one looks at a bubble or a mirage forming during a heavy rain, the King of Death will not find him.
(Above outline short notes draft was prepared by Sis Soo Yee)
||Teoh Thu 190801
(Short Notes pdf)
Brother Teoh went through last Thursday’s outline short notes.
Bro Teoh reminded kalyanamittas that the silent mind (which is the true mind) is the meditative mind. You just need to relax, aware and maintain awareness for as long as possible, and trust your nature to do the meditation.
Don’t use your thinking mind to try to know. Even when thoughts arise, you just let everything be. Any sense door contact of the mind, just be aware. Otherwise, upon contact, ignorance would condition the 12 links (dependent origination) and the chain of sankhara thinking activities will follow suit.
It is important to train the mind until mind enters sati, then stabilize it to realize passaddhi by not trying to know while in meditation. When you are out from meditation, you can use the stability of mindfulness to cultivate the daily mindfulness and to develop the 1st and 2nd turning wisdom of suttamaya panna and cintamaya panna leading to the initial wisdom (yonisomanasikara).
When you ‘want’ to enter the meditative state, that ‘wanting’ is actually a craving within the mind.
Brother Teoh advised kalyanamittas to have strong faith and to determine to be ever mindful. This determination is essential for the cultivation of the daily mindfulness and the initial wisdom. To be constantly meditative and ever mindful in the midst of our daily activities is vital as heedfulness is the path to the deathless, and the heedful never dies.
Brother Teoh shared his experience regarding his determination to be ever mindful in the early years of his cultivation. After two weeks of continuous mindfulness training (with intention to be ever mindful), the awareness came. He had a good religious’ routine covering continuous daily mindfulness of all movements, actions and activities throughout the day, from the moment he woke up to the moment he slept at night. Later on even when his body goes into the sleeping mode he was still able to maintain clear awareness of all his mundane mind’s subconscious and unconscious mental releases. He was fully aware throughout the night until upon ‘waking up’ from the sleep the next morning and he was aware of the same last thought arising just before he ‘wakes up’ as if he didn’t really sleep. Yes! It was as if he never slept throughout the night, as his awareness was very clear and stable all the while. This is the continuous awareness one needs to develop. That’s why Bro. Teoh said, ‘the 3rd support which is the continuous 24 hours’ mindfulness is possible’.
There is a slight difference in the 4 noble truths stated in the Theravada tradition and the Mahayana tradition. In Theravada, first is dukkha (un satisfactoriness); second is samudaya, (the cause of suffering which is craving); third is nirodha (cessation); fourth is magga (path, the Noble eightfold path). Whereas in Mahayana, the second noble truth is not ‘the cause of suffering is craving’ but changed to ‘accumulation through memory as the cause of suffering’. The accumulation of one’s fear, phobia, scars of memory, insecurity, anxiety and all the other psychological memories are the cause of suffering. Those who experience depression will understand this because they have strong tendencies towards these accumulated mind states (which are wrong thoughts) that conditioned their suffering, misery etc. leading to their depression and suicidal thoughts.
Human beings crave for security leading to a sense of insecurity. This insecurity is inherent in human beings. Insecurity breeds fear. Fear of being born leading to old age, sickness and death; fear of death, fear of losing our job, fear of failure, fear of danger and fear of losing our love ones and wealth (separation), etc. But with dharma in the heart, you just need to have total trust in the dharma. Trust your nature especially your karma nature to take care of you (your life).
Meditate and develop the understanding of life especially what the form and mind is? With dharma, you will know who you are and what you are and you will also understand all the nature’s laws that governs life and existence. With this, you will understand life and you are able to live life well. That is, how to develop the understanding to live a good and successful life. Not only success in the materialistic aspect of life but also in the spiritual aspect of life which is most important. With spiritual understanding of the four noble truths and eightfold noble path, life is beautiful, meaningful, wonderful and complete.
When you continuously cultivate the true dharma, you will have understanding, love, joy, faith and gratitude towards the triple gem, your teachers, your other guides and fellow kalyanamittas. You will also develop all virtues and wholesomeness. You will be able to live a very good and rather meaningful life of joy, peace, tranquility and happiness. No more suffering and no more problems and worries. This is wisdom leading to liberation of mind.
On the other hand, when you do not understand life, there is selfishness, emotions and arrogance in the mind. Everything that you do is for self-benefit only. These unwholesome acts filled with delusion will only create more evil thoughts, further suffering and misery when you cannot get what you want or wish for. Evil roots of greed, hatred and delusion is inherent within this deluded mundane mind. Out of fear, more negative karma is being created. These karmic fruitions cause you to be afflicted and suffer, not able to have peace and joy in life.
It is important to understand, that the ‘doing’ while in meditation is always by the thought and when thoughts are active there is no real meditation. Without thought, there is only this pure awareness, so no fear, worry and anxiety. Instead there is only peace, tranquility, joy, inner awareness and the stillness, which is the meditative state.
When you use thought, use it to arise the appropriate ‘right thought’ to develop wholesomeness, virtues, kindness, respect, gratitude and thus be a blessing to all. These wholesome mental states that you arise will propel you to be on the path to ultimate liberation. Whereas wrong thoughts have greed, hatred and delusion, born of ignorance; they only lead to afflicting negative emotions, and is the total opposite of the noble eightfold path practices.
A kalyanamitta asked Brother Teoh regarding the discussion on taking up jobs deemed unwholesome (wrong livelihood) in their discussion group. Brother Teoh advised (basing on his own understanding) the most important criterion to look at is your mental intention or cetena. Cetena is what causes karma. If your mental intention has the 3 evil roots, it will cause negativity of karma. If your intention is wholesome (e.g. to help people), then it is okay. If it involves improper livelihood, then you have to decide whether taking up this job is conducive for your cultivation or not? Most importantly, is your own understanding of the dharma and your ability to notice your own defilements is what matters.
For example, taking vegetarian. Some say being vegetarian shows a more compassionate heart. Some argue that this is not necessary. Eventually, it all boils down to the level of your own understanding of whether to be vegetarian or not. To what extent you are able to notice your own defilements (especially the gross ones) when they arise is most important. This immediate cultivation is essential. If even the gross defilements also you are unable to handle, then there is not much meaning to go to that level of compassion as going vegetarian. Always understand the mental intention behind all that you do. It is not ‘one size fits all’ and you must act with understanding. Never violate the nature’s law of karma or certain important society’s law as they can lead to negative karmic consequences. Acting just to impress others that you are outwardly more compassionate or spiritual is of not much value because this is form dharma, not mind dharma.
The Buddha’s teaching of keeping precepts is for training the mind in mindfulness. For example, the first precept, ‘I undertake the training rule to refrain from taking the life of any living creatures’ is for you to develop your mindfulness and take this precept seriously because it is a training rule and you have to exercise sense restraint. You can also further investigate into it, put it to test, and establish a deep understanding, as to why this precept is being introduced by the Buddha. Who kill? What type of person will violate this precept? A selfish, deluded and violent person who has the evil roots of Greed, Hatred and Delusion. This imply the breaking of this precept leads to major evil karmic consequences following dhammapada verse 1.
When you can keep precepts well and are ever mindful in your daily life, you will have a deeper understanding of the essential dharma and thus you will have the wisdom to choose the right job with the right livelihood. In the case of working as sale personnel for a Sport Toto outlet (as per your group’s discussion), my personally advice is – no problem because it is a legal entity approved by the government and it is a proper listed company. [But please don’t quote me (unless you have the understanding) because this topic can be sensitive.]
In this particular case, your mental intention is sincere and simple because it is an honorable sale job with an established company of legal status. Sport Toto had also done a lot of wholesome corporate social responsibility and activities. If after taking up the job, then you think a ‘wrong thought’ which makes you remorseful, then you are creating your own un necessary mental suffering (worrying, etc.) via your wrong thoughts.
(Above outline short notes draft was prepared by Sister Phey Yuen)
||Teoh Thu 190725
(Short Notes pdf)
For meditators whose spiritual faculties are quite developed, meditation is relatively easy because technically they do not need to train their mind, they can straight away relax body and mind, silent their mind and allow whatever thinking or thoughts (if any) to slow down on their own, then the silent meditative mind will arise. Relax into whatever mind states that arise. Remember the first 3 supports – relax, aware and maintain awareness for as long as you can (no matter what happens). Just be aware of any tactile feeling or sensation that arise. When one becomes more skilful, one will be able to be aware of our subtle breathing (or whatever object of meditation used). Finally, the awareness will drop to the heart area. Just silent everything and feel or maintain awareness. Don’t do anything else. Just aware, aware and aware…. And no more thoughts proliferation.
The 4 supports for awareness base meditation are: 1st support – relax, 2nd support – aware, 3rd support – 24-hour continuous awareness to be maintain for as long as you can, finally when you can detect the gateway to your true nature, just let nature do the meditation via the 4th support – trust, with no interference from the thought. If you don’t use the mind, it will silent very fast. Your true nature, which is just aware will surface. Stay with the awareness, stabilize it. It has the ability to understand many things. Use this silent mind to develop wisdom and understanding.
Without awareness one cannot be mindful and heedful. Only through a stable sati, can the mind become collected and unwavering, quiet and peaceful. Then the meditation will happen by itself.
The important point of understanding is, you can use any object of meditation (as a skilful mean) to quieten and still the mind until the mind enters sati, to realize the silent mind which is also your true mind. When sati is stabilized, the mind will enter sati and the more refined sati will arise. With no movement or activity, stay with that silence, to stabilize it until a natural state of free mind in Samadhi borne of understanding arise.
Consciousness is trapped inside the physical form, – so when the sense data and the conscious mind makes contact with the sense bases, the respective sense door consciousness arises. Then through the silent mind, you can understand clearly what the Buddha’s dependent origination teaching is. That is – upon contact what happens, etc.? What is “avijja paccaya sankhara”; you will also see and understand clearly. You can then have a very stable and sensitive mind in sati to observe and develop the wisdom and understanding. Without this stability of mindfulness, you cannot do it.
For meditators who lack the 5 spiritual faculties, they need to train their mind, through mind sweeping method and anapanasati to develop sati first. When sati is developed, the mind will calm down, you will experience piti/spiritual joy/rapture/calmness. Remember to relax into whatever mind state that arise, otherwise one may be led astray to develop absorption and one pointedness concentration meditation. This Relaxation step, is very important (for you to avoid from falling into such concentration). Mind becomes quiet, calm and tranquil when you relax into it. It also frees the body and mind from stress, tension and tightness. The more relax you are, the more refined your meditation will be. The ability to relax is something we must learn. It is very deep, there are many levels and stages of calmness and awareness. When you are in sati and you know how to relax, you can release whatever stress within the form and mind. Actually most of you are not really relaxed! When you are truly relaxed, your mind is a free mind, not holding onto anything, always at peace without the need to do anything and you are most of the time with your true mind, without thought and have no mental movement.
The thoughts come in very fast (when you try to know), so don’t try to know. It will disrupt the tranquillity, the stillness of mind. Just let things be. Whenever contact arises let it be, just aware and don’t let the thought proliferate. That is how you can meditate with understanding to progress along the path of dharma.
First train the mind to develop sati, stabilize it until mind enters sati to realise the stillness and tranquillity of mind leading to passaddhi. When that mind arises, you can use it to meditate and develop a lot of understanding. Your initial wisdom borne of the 1st and 2nd turnings wisdom is very important. Without the initial wisdom, it is not easy to develop the meditation.
Sister Tammy shared during meditation, how her mind made comparisons, rejecting or accepting the thoughts. She reflected on her first meditation experience, then later she realised, she had fallen asleep but when she became aware again, her thoughts flashed by quickly. She felt rejuvenated and refreshed after that.
Bro Teoh explained that Tammy felt recuperated because her mind actually rested when she fell asleep. In daily life, if her mindfulness spiritual faculty is not stable, sankhara will arise. Sankhara moves very fast. In puthujjana, it is like non-stop sankhara activities leading to proliferation of thoughts. The untrained mind is heedless and it thinks a lot, so expect this sankhara activities to arise, let it arise, and do not resist it, then your mind can settle down and you can be at peace.
Cultivate mindfulness to tame the heedless thinking (untrained and wild) mind. Train your mind to go beyond mere conceptual (heedless) thinking leading to a mind state of pure, still and undistracted tranquillity and well-being. That is real meditation.
There is an internal conflict created by the mundane mind wanting to be quiet, this wanting is a craving (a mental hindrance) which will prevent you entering the meditative state of inner peace, inner calmness and inner awareness. If you don’t create dislike for this state, the craving and the ill-will will not be there. If no mental hindrance, sati will take over. Meditation will fall into its place.
Most cultivators tend to make this mistake. The mundane mind actively doing things (in the name of meditate). They thought to meditate there must be a meditator. But they never inqu