主题 : 当下即安:探索正确禅修的过程
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楼主  发表于: 2018-01-17 17:34

0 当下即安:探索正确禅修的过程

         My Journey to Correct Meditation
Suan Santidham, October 17,2007
            Suan Santidham, 2007年10月17日

Dhamma is something we can study or talk about anywhere. It is a natural and ordinary topic and needn’t be something to speak of in a formal way or setting. In the Buddha’s time, they taught under trees. Dhamma isn’t so mysterious or complicated either. Common people can understand it just fine. But if an ordinary person is to develop the mind to the state of nibbāna (Nirvana), he or she must be very diligent and committed, though not in the sense of a workhouse with the head down and the use of brute force. It is not at all as hard as it sounds. Regular working people can achieve great wisdom into the true nature of things. There is no need to be a monk.

Allow me to share the story of my practice. It will help us to see that we can all practice to see the truth. It will also provide some insight into how to practice correctly and how to overcome some obstacles we may encounter along our journey.

When I was seven years old I went to a temple called Wat Asokarama and met a monk there named Luang Por (Venerable Father) Lee. He gave me my first lesson in meditation . He taught me to watch and count my breaths and mentally say “Buddho” (The knower or awakened one) as did this. Each in-breath I was to say “Bud”, and each out-breath I was to say “dho”, breathing in “Bud”, out “dho”, count 1, in “Bud”, out “dho”, and count 2. I was instructed to count up to ten full breaths and then count back down again.
七岁的时候,我去一家名叫Asokarama的寺院,遇到隆波李。他教导了我禅修的第一堂课。他教我观察呼吸和数呼吸,数息时说“佛陀”(知道者和觉醒者)。每吸一口气时,说“佛”,每呼一口气时,说“陀”。吸气说“佛”呼气说“陀”后,数1;  吸气说“佛”呼气说“陀”后,数2.  他指导我数到10时重新再开始从1数起。

After receiving this instruction from Luang Por Lee, I practiced day in and day out. At the time I didn’t know about the Buddha’s teaching on mindfulness of the in-breath and out-breath (Anapanasati). The true meaning of this teaching is to be mindful with every breath. It does not mean to force your attention to stay with the breath and not let it go off elsewhere. But the latter is what I did. And since I was only seven, my mind was able to concentrate on the breath very well. The mind of a youngster just did what it was told. I wasn’t inquisitive and I wasn’t seeking any results.

Not long after, I was able to visit different realms of existence and I became interested in angels and higher beings. Perhaps by the grace of previous karma or practice, I realized the futility in this curiosity. I thought, “I am not an angel. They won’t let me live with them. So why am I looking over the fence to see what the neighbours have?” I was also very afraid of ghosts, so the idea hit me that perhaps I’d end up visiting them too. In fact I was so afraid of ghosts that I couldn’t sleep when my little cat died. I worried its spirit would haunt me! I decided that enough was enough with my astral travels, and so I decided to keep to the breath from then on.

Every day for the next 22 years, even without a teacher to remind or force me, I continued to practice watching and counting the breath and repeating “Buddho”. I was able to make the mind very peaceful. One day, when I was about 10 years old, I was playing with marbles outside in the yard, and I suddenly saw the neighbours’ house catch fire. It was blazing out of many rooms. In a state of shock, I quickly gathered up all my marbles (still greedy, and making sure I wouldn’t lose any of them!) and darted into the house to tell my dad. After about three steps something amazing happened: mindfulness arose automatically and I was able to see the fear, from a completely detached position.

Many years later I later told this story to a venerable teacher of mine, Luang Por Phud. He said this happened from the karma of a previous lifetime when I had practiced meditation. If a very powerful emotion arises, usually fear or anger, mindfulness that was developed before will come back and see the emotion. Dosa (fear, anger, stress, or any kind of aversion) is the strongest and usually the easiest defilement to see. Learning Dhamma through meditative development is something that never leaves us. It is completely distinct from learning with books and teachers; it is not forgotten, even over lifetimes.

Many people have such experiences, where a separation occurs from a strong emotion even if just for a moment. But at the time this moment of mindfulness occurred, and the moment of separation from the phenomenon of fear, I didn’t know it was anything significant and I quickly forgot about it. Luang Por Lee had passed on and I didn’t have a teacher or anyone to ask. I knew there were good teachers in Thailand, especially the Northeast, but I didn’t know any of them. So I just kept watching the breath and making myself peaceful for a while every day.

In 1981, at the age of 29, I was reading a Dhamma magazine and noticed Luang Pu (Venerable Grandfather) Dune’s paraphrasing of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths quoted on the back cover:
The mind sent out is the cause of suffering.
The result of the mind being sent out is suffering.
The mind that sees the mind with crystal clarity is the Nobel Path.
The result of the mind that sees the mind with crystal clarity is liberation

Regarding the first sentence, it should be noted that it is normal and natural to send the mind out to look, hear, see, touch, taste and to think. In short, this is how we interact with the world. However, when regular people do this, the mind will be uneasy, unsteady. This is not the case for those who have reached enlightenment. This is one of Luang Pu Dune’s teachings. I had never heard anything like this before, but it struck me as very interesting. I was great at watching the breath, but really knew nothing at all about Dhamma.  I was completely ignorant to it. Luckily Luang Pu Dune was still alive and living in Surin Province. So I set out to see him at his temple, Wat Burabharama.

I waited for him to finish his lunch in his living quarters(khuti), and after which he came out to sit in a chair out front. I prostrated to him three times as is the tradition, and then sat at his feet. I told him that I would like to practice the Dhamma. He closed his eyes and sat silently for at least a half an hour. I wasn’t sure what has happened. Was he going to talk to me? Was he meditating?  Maybe he was taking an afternoon nap! When he finally opened his eyes he told me that Dhamma practice is not hard; it is only hard for those who don’t practice. He told me that I had studied enough books, and it was now time to study my own mind. I was so excited that he finally spoke and taught me something. I told him I understood what he meant. He said if I understand, then I should go and practice. And that was it. That was all he said to me. It was time to venture on another overnight train back home, with just that to ponder.
Luang Pu Dune told me to study my own mind. But I did not know where my mind was. On the train home, I started to look for it. I figured the mind had to be in my body. If I stopped being interested in the outside world, and just observed the body, then eventually I would find the mind. This is what I thought. So first, I investigated my hair. It seemed obvious the mind wasn’t there. I then proceeded to investigate the rest of my body, all the way down to the feet. It didn’t seem that there was a mind anywhere in the body at all. It was all just material stuff, and the body was just a physical mass.

So when I thought maybe the mind was in contentment and discontentment. So I made myself feel happy and relaxed, and then I looked into the happiness for mind. The happiness then started to drift away. It was apparent that there was no mind to be found in the happiness. The same was true for unhappiness. Next, I figured maybe the mind is in thoughts. I decided to do some Buddhist chanting and watch these chanted thoughts carefully. I saw the thoughts, the words of the chant, coming up and realized that the mind isn’t the thoughts; the mind is that which knows everything. It is that which knows the body and what it does, knows all the feelings, knows all phenomena.

I watched all phenomena happening and concluded that the mind was just the natural knower of all things. Upon this understanding, the mind completely separated from all things that were arising, if just for a moment, and then was attached to them once again. I saw that the mind could separate out. It was quite a revelation. I practiced trying to make this happen again for a week straight, and was successful again only for a few quick moment.

I was proud of my accomplishments. Even though I had practiced so much and only was able to separate the mind out for a few moments, I felt it was a great feat. I could have just as easily been disappointed that I’d had only a few moments of clarity after all that work, but I was good at encouraging myself. We have to know the art of when to be comforting or stern with ourselves.

Then in the next week, I could see the mind oscillating between being separated from and attached to phenomena. I could also see the mind moving from the eyes to the ears, to thinking, and all around. I decided try to make it stop doing all this, and pulled all the attention in to make the mind still at the center of the chest. It felt tight there, but I noticed that the mind wasn’t to be found in this spot either. I felt maybe I had to get rid of this tightness.

Please remember that I had not much direction from teachers at the time, so I was just trying to figure it all out for myself. I focused intently on the tight spot in the chest, and eventually the tightness burst and I felt a wonderful sensation of relief. I thought I had practiced really well that day. But the tightness kept coming back, and I had to be more and more resourceful with my concentration to burst it, like a needle poking again and again at a balloon. Finally, when the balloon in the chest burst a final time, the mind became the knower, the watcher again. After a short time though, the mind started running around to the eyes to see, the ears to hear, into the thoughts to think. I still couldn’t figure out how to stop it from moving. I decided to focus on the breath again just to try to keep the mind still. I spent a long time trying to find a solution to stop the mind’s antics.

After about three months of this, I went back to Luang Pu Dune. I figured he would be very pleased with my work. With a straight face, I told him, “I am now able to watch my mind.” He asked, “Tell me about the mind then.”  I told him, “the mind keeps running around, but I can keep bringing it back.”  He then exclaimed, “That’s not watching the mind. You are meddling with its behavior! Try again.”  He didn’t tell me what to watch; he just said I was interfering with the behavior and not watching the mind itself. He then expounded some Dhamma to me about how Buddha is mind (citta). I didn’t understand any of it and felt exhausted. At the end of it, in a blur of confusion, I asked if I could just go back and watch the mind. He said, of course, as that is all there really is to do in all of the Buddha’s teachings.
三个月之后,我再次去见隆波顿,我想他会对我的修行很满意。我一本正经地告诉他: “现在我能够观察我的心了。”   他回答道:“那你告诉我观察心。”我告诉他:“心不断地四处跑,但我能不断把它拉回来。”他大嚷道:“那不是观察心,你在干预它的行为!再去尝试。”他没有告诉我观察什么,他只是说我在妨碍心的活动,不是观察心本身。接着他向我详细解说一些佛法知识:佛心是怎样。我用力去听,但完全听不懂,感到筋疲力尽。最后,带着困惑地,我问他是否我可以回去观察心了。他说,可以,按照佛陀的教导去做,全部都已经在那里。

When I went back I mulled over what Luang Pu Dune had told me. If I was lost in the mind’s behavior, then maybe I should stop concerning myself with the mind’s antics. I decided I’d just let the mind do what it does and just observe it without interfering.

Seven months after first meeting Luang Pu Dune, I went to meet a monk friend of mine after work at a nearby temple and got caught in the rain. My umbrella could not withstand the intensity of the wind and rain. I was completely soaked. I went into the hut (khuti) and sat in such a way that I would not make the floor too wet. I began to worry that I would surely catch a cold from this weather. From all the practice I had done, however, the mind separated out and saw the worry and the worry disappeared. Not only that, but the whole world disappeared for a moment, and all that was left was mind. The mind showed me in that moment that even the mind was not me. I realized that if not even the mind was me, then there isn’t anything in this world that we can call ourselves.

I went back to Luang Pu Dune again and I told him that the practice had come together. He said that I know how to practice correctly now, that I have seen the noble path and the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha). He said that I didn’t need to go back to see him again. Of course, I still did. I was stubborn in my ways, and I didn’t believe him yet.

Can we see here that we don’t have to be a monk to practice correctly and receive the fruits and wisdom that it brings? Just watch and see what the mind does. Know in the body, and know in the mind. Just know. Only know.

About nine months later I wanted some help again with my practice. Unfortunately, Luang Pu Dune had passed away. After that, I mostly went to Luang Pu Thade for advice, and occasionally Luang Pu Sim and a few others. I went to meet Luang Pu Sim and told him about an experience I was having. Ever since I was a child practicing meditation, I had never been one to get taken away by peaceful states. I was always alert. But for some reason, at this point I kept getting absorbed and falling asleep, even sometimes while doing walking meditation! I was curious about what was going on. When I explained my situation to Luang Pu Sim, he asked me what a true watcher could be curious about?  He said I’ll be fine and that great things are bound to happen soon. That’s about all he said. It was hard to understand and certainly hard to swallow.

Few meditation masters provide assistance with the impeccable detail that I do. I’ll even tell you what your mind is doing for you! Anyway, I continued with my practice and my understanding of the Dhamma.  The mind withdrew and became more and more distant from what arose. Then there was a period where whatever objects would arise, I would bring my attention deep into them with great focus. I really wanted to see them clearly. I was staying with Luang Por Keun, a student of Luang Pu Dune at the time. He told me, “Hey, Pramote, watch the mind! Remember the watcher.”  So I had to stop focusing deeply on the objects.

I thought he meant to clearly watch the watcher, so then I focused all my attention on it. I held it in my attention as best I could. This is not what we should do. I did this for about year, until the mind was completely still and stuck to the watcher like glue. Many people like to do this, fixing attention on the breath or the watcher as I did, but it really has no use. Be careful of this. Don’t make the same mistake as I did, stagnant for 22 years concentrating on the breath, and then another year fixing to the watcher.

Finally, I began to relax and let the mind do its thing. It would slip towards the mental phenomena that would arise and then come back to the watcher or knower. I wouldn’t hold to the watcher anymore, so I would let it slip back down into a phenomenon, and then it would come back to the watcher again. The mind would be the knower and then it wouldn’t, moving back and forth like this between watching mind and mental phenomena. At one point, the mind released its attention from both and there was a cessation in the middle. It was not here, there or anywhere between. I thought this must have been nibbāna.

I went to see Luang Pu Thade. He told me to keep doing this. There weren’t many people that are able to do what I was doing, so he wanted to make sure I didn’t stop practicing. I told him I was scared I’d get addicted to this state, so he reassured me that he would help me if I did. This actually was a type of Samatha practice. But since it was so rare, Luang Pu Thade thought I should keep at it.

By chance one evening I met a monk, Luang Pu Boonjan who asked me about my practice. When I told him about this beautiful state I was keeping to, he laughed and said, “What kind of nibbāna would have an entrance and an exit? His words jolts me, and my mind exited the state it had been in. I realized that this state of Samadhi, this cessation amidst the oscillating mind as I described was not the way to end suffering. I decided I wouldn’t meddle with or hold to any states ever again. I would only know.

From then on, my practice was to know whatever arises. Phenomena would flash in and flash out all day and all night, like sparkles dancing. It was all there was. After a while, I became very tired of watching this all the time. I hoped I could stop watching for a day or so. Well for better or worse, this proved impossible. Mindfulness was working on its own. There was no way to stop it or get out of this.

I went to see Luang Por Phud. He was very busy at the temple that day but still spent an hour helping me. He told others to wait, because helping me was a priority. We were both exhausted. He told me that at my stage, the mind sees things in this way. I was still discouraged, however, and eventually I insisted that he go and continue with his other engagement.

My next idea was to write a letter to Luang Ta Maha Bua. He answered by giving me a big book to read. In the book, I found some information about the state where I was stuck. He said the same thing as Luang Por Phud. I supposed everything was going fine then, but I was tired and uninspired.

I remember one day I was waiting at a bus stop and decided I would go back to counting the breath, the way I practiced before meeting Luang Pu Dune. It was my old Samatha practice. I thought I would do it just for a rest. When I got to breath number 28, the mind entered Samadhi (became one-pointed). The phenomena that were sparkling and dancing finally ceased. I then came out of the Samadhi and realized I was silly for completely abandoning this practice for so long. I needed this state of concentration. I was so intent on watching the mind and trying to develop wisdom that the watching became like a dull knife, not able to cut through anything any further. I realized that the Samatha practice gave my mind the rest and sharpness it needed to watch phenomena with energy and alertness. We need to do Samatha sometimes for peacefulness. Once peaceful we let go of Samatha and watch the mind and body do what they do naturally.

I’ve been telling stories here about a lot of the mistakes I have made along the way. I was addicted to Samatha. Then I was looking around for the mind. Then I was addicted to the watcher. Then I played around and interfered with states and the watcher. Then I tossed out Samatha altogether. We can’t abandon our Samatha practice. And one is also ill-advised to only to Samatha and never develop wisdom. Practing Samatha only is a totally different path than that to nibbāna, but it is important as an ability that gives us strength and energy to support the way of wisdom.

I later received a second response from Luang Ta Maha Bua. In it he told me that proper practice wasn’t complicated. We need to just know the body and mind as they are in the present moment. This summarizes it very well. Just have the mindfulness to know the body and mind as they are. Just keep knowing and knowing.

So we can see that we can go quite far in our practice as a normal lay-person. I did, however, reach a point where I felt that had too many responsibilities. It made sense to have more time in the day to practice, so I decided to ordain as a monk in 2001. Actually, my wife recommended it!

It is not necessary to be a monk to practice successfully; laypeople can do it well. As a layperson, when I reported my experience to meditation masters, there were often monks listening in. I remember once a monk asked me how I could reach such stages of understanding. He admitted he’d been a monk for 20 years and hadn’t achieved even close to what I had, in just a year. I told him that I don’t just keep my mind still and peaceful all day.

Once my mind becomes peaceful, I keep seeing what the body and mind do from moment to moment. I watch the body stand, walk, sit and lie down – not myself, the body. The body sits; it is not me sitting. The body lies down; it is not me lying down. The body is just a material thing with a mind in it, just a bundle of elements, with an inflow and outflow such elements occurring continuously. Or I watch the mind. It works all day and all night, thinking and making things up; one moment it is happy, the next it is unhappy. one moment it is nice, the next it is mean. It goes around and around like this non-stop. It goes from the eyes to see, to the ears to hear, to the nose to smell, to the tongue to taste, to the body surface to experience sensations and into the mind to think. Around and around it goes, working by itself all the time. We can’t control it, and we can’t choose whether we will be happy, nice or peaceful. It rotates around between all these things: always in a state of flux, with no state persisting, and with nothing under our control. When we see that everything is always changing(anicca), that nothing persists (dukkha) and that it is all beyond control (anattā), then we have seen the three Characteristics that the Buddha taught.

Physical and mental phenomena will show their true characteristics if we practice Vipassana correctly. This is the purpose of Vipassana. Vipassana is not  thinking things out and telling ourselves that we are not our body. That is not true wisdom. We have to watch things as they are and see the Three Characteristics in our experience.

Please watch and know in this way, and one day it will be sufficient. The characteristics will show themselves clearly. The process of enlightment will occur. When we see that there is no self to be found in the mind and body; that the mind and body are actually the five khandhas or aggregates (body/form, feeling, memory, mental states/formations, consciousness), many of us get scared. Some get sad, some bored and fed up with the world. Eventually we see that happy and sad, good and bad, are equivalent states in that they are just phenomena that arise and fall,subject to the Three Characteristics. It will seem for many of us at this point that the world is very boring and pointless. This is not an unwholesome boredom, however. It arises because the mind is stable, not attached and impartial to what arises.

Try to be impartial to what arises. Don’t hate defilements, just know when they have arisen. The Buddha never taught that we should not have defilements. He didn’t teach to try to get rid of anger or other defilements like craving when they arise. He taught us that when they arise, we should know they have arisen. When anger arises, the mind has anger, not us. If craving arises, see that the mind has craving,not us. We are not the mind. There is no us. Keeping watch in this way.

When we see that the body and mind are not us, then we can say that we have attained true wisdom. When we have full wisdom the mind will be completely equanimous, impartial to all things. This is a mind that has found the Buddha’s famous “middle way”. It is unaffected by any arising phenomenon. When happiness arises, we don’t get caught up in it as it is only temporary. When suffering arises, we don’t get lost in that either as it is also temporary. We see that all things good or bad are impermanent and just arise and pass of their own accord. When defilements arise we don’t hate them. Remember they are our teachers and can show us the Three Characteristics. They bring us true wisdom just as well as virtuous states do. We just keep watching in this way every day, and we will see that all mental and physical phenomena simply arise because of cause. And when the cause for a phenomenon is no longer present, the phenomenon falls away.

The mind will start to know clearly what arises (be mindful) on its own. When it sees phenomena clearly and quickly, they fall away immediately; they do not come up and take over the mind, and don’t create stories, pains or any realms of suffering. The mind will move into a deep level of concentration called “appanā samādhi” on its own whether one had previously experienced concentration to this level or not. At this stage the mind will see phenomena arise and fall very quikly. The mind doesn’t even know what it is that arises. Each phenomenon simply comes and goes, comes and goes. It knows, but it doesn’t know what it knows.

His Royal Highness the King of Thailand came to a meeting of high monks once and asked if knowing but not knowing what we are knowing is still knowing.  The answer Luang Por Phud gave is yes. The mind that is knowing, but doesn’t  know what it is knowing, is not involved in the relative world. It sees all phenomena as equal and is not thinking, conceptualizing, or lost in stories that are, at best, only true at a relative level. When we see truth on the ultimate level, we see that each thing that arises, then falls away. We see that such things have no name. When we see this clearly, we are nearing the first stage of enlightment called stream-entry.

Then we see that each thing that arises and falls is just a mass of suffering. The mind is wise, peaceful and is impartial to whatever arises and falls. Then the mind moves towards pure consciousness. When it arrives there the defilements will start to become eradicated. Nibbāna, the end of suffering, is visible for just two or three moments. The stream enterer then returns to the relative world but still contemplates Truth. He or she can also see what defilements are now gone and which still remain. He or she then continues to pratice in exactly the same way as always: watching and knowing body and mind.

Non-monks can do this work very well. After all,monk and lay person are just relative positions which hold no truth on the ultimate level. Both have bodies and minds and know in just the same way.

That’s enough theory for one day. Go back to your lives and study the body and mind. But don’t sit and think about them; that will slow the practice down, and make it difficult.

To conclude, I’ll provide some practial examples of how to practice mindfulness in daily life. When you are sitting and waiting for someone and feel bored, know that there is boredom. At work, when laziness arises in the afternoon, know there is laziness. When you want to talk to a friend, know there is wanting. When talking if it feels fun, know enjoyment has arisen. When hunger arises, know it. When you are choosing food at the cafeteria and it all looks unappetizing, know that dissatisfaction has arisen. Just know in this way. Know directly in your experience and see that every mind of every kind arises and falls; laziness arises and falls, boredom arises and falls, wanting arises and falls. When you taste the food and you are glad it tastes better than you had expected, know there is gladness. When you shower, notice all the mental states that arise. Especially if it is a cold shower, there will be lots of changes to notice: fear will arise and fall, and relief and happiness will arise when we are clean and dry.

A good place to observe the changes of the mind is in traffic. We may be at the back of a long line at a red light and feel restlessness. Know the moment that this has arisen. Then a green light appears and we feel a little bit happy, but then the light turns red again just before we make it through! We get very frustrated. We may notice we are more upset about that than we were a few minutes ago when we were twenty cars back! See and know what arises in the mind, with honesty and humility. We will see the devil inside us, so to speak. We will see that we are as bad as anyone else. We won’t  blame anyone for our pains and sorrows anymore. The evils of the world are just defilements. Anger, greed and ignorance take over our minds just as they do the minds of others. Everyone deserves our sympathy in this regard. It isn’t hard to watch the mind as in the examples I have given, but we do need courage, patience and perseverance.
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