and revised by Nina van Gorkom
is a conversation in Adelaide between Bhikkhu Dhammadharo (Alan Driver)
and others on account of a letter about Dhamma.
writer of that letter thought that mindfulness is to be with what you
are doing, for instance, when cycling be with your cycling and enjoy
nature, the birds. When you lie down on the floor feel your whole body
on the floor.
If you try to concentrate on your feet going around no
awareness of anything. It is just a self who is trying to direct
awareness, an idea of what you think awareness is, to some place or
other of the body, because we want to know this, we want to know that.
It is not natural. It is not getting rid of attachment, it is increasing
Attachment to what?
To the object, whatever it is. If we are attached to watching our feet
going around or to the feeling we get when we are lying prostrate on the
floor, then that is attachment to those objects which appear. And
attachment to the idea of a self who can take something and direct it to
this point and be “aware”. It is not really awareness, it is not
detachment. It is increasing the idea of a controller who can direct and
induce awareness. There is so much concentration involved; it is not
natural at all.
one is cycling normally what happens? There is attachment, there is
aversion, there is ignorance. Because that is what there is now and that
is what there is time and again. Day in, day out. It does not stop when
you get on your bicycle. It keeps going, attachment, aversion and
ignorance. Sometimes there can be a moment of awareness which is
aware of whatever appears through any doorway, no choosing. Not
concentrating on the bodysense in order to be aware of movement. Not
concentrating through the eyes in order to be aware of visible object.
Not concentrating on any particular doorway, looking for something or
trying to direct awareness but just letting awareness arise naturally.
We should realize that awareness only arises by conditions and that you
can't make it happen here or there for a long time. You can't keep it
somewhere. The whole point of developing awareness is to see that
nothing can be kept anywhere. So, how can you keep awareness? It is just
as much anatta ,not self, as anything else. If you try to keep
awareness, concentrating on a particular spot of the body you are
certainly not being aware, but there is a self who is trying hard to
make something the way he wants it to be.
you be aware now? Yes, if you want to develop insight you have to be
aware now. We have no other opportunity. And what will you be aware of?
Sitting is not a reality. But there is seeing now. Why go past the
eye. So we see. Seeing is not sitting, seeing sees. And there is visible
object, which makes it possible for seeing to arise. So there is visible
object to be aware of too. And how do you know you are sitting? Because
you do not see what you call your body, in the position that you
conventionally label “sitting posture” You also have experiences of
hardness here and there, there are tangible objects being experienced in
different places where there is bodysense. Then, when you think about
all that information, you have the idea of a person or someone as a
“whole”. That is what you call “sitting”. But the whole purpose
of the Buddha's teachings is to destroy that wrong idea of a “whole”
through seeing the truth of the different realities. They are not a
“whole”. Seeing is not sitting. The experience of hardness at this
point does not sit. The experience of coolness at that point does not
sit. The coolness itself does not sit. “Sitting” is a conventional
idea which enables us to communicate. It is not a reality.
panna, gets beyond words, beyond thinking about states, positions, ideas
about a self or a whole, and it sees reality without thinking. Because
the function of panna is not thinking, its function is to see clearly,
to penetrate that which we mistake for “sitting”. We mistakenly
think that a person is sitting. We have the wrong idea of “I am
sitting”. Anatta is the core of the Buddha's teaching, not atta, self.
read in the “Satipatthana Sutta” that, when sitting, one should know
“I am sitting”. We cannot take just one sentence out of the context.
This is only one sentence out of the 84.000 sentences which compose the
teachings of the Buddha. There can be right understanding when we have
studied and learnt many other areas of the teachings. Then we will see
how these all point in the same direction: to be aware of the different
characteristics appearing one at a time through different doorways,
right at this moment, whatever you may be doing. If you are sitting, be
aware. Don't try to change things. Because if you want to try and change
something you are not being aware at this moment. Here we are, we are
sitting, why would we want to change? Do we think we will have more
awareness if we do so? We have attachment to the idea of a self who is
going to get more awareness if he does so. But there is no awareness of
the realities now, there is no awareness which will destroy the illusion
of a self sitting or lying or doing anything else. It is attachment.
Maybe we need to change things. It is so difficult to start anywhere
Difficult? But if we start in the right way it is truly a start, and no
matter how slow it will be, one day we can reach the right end. But if
we are going fast the wrong way, it is frightening.
I do not think it is the wrong way when one is selecting simply in the
way that one is with what one is doing.
At the moment of selecting is there awareness of a reality? Is it right
or wrong if we are at that moment not being aware of what appears?
I think we are aware of what appears.
What is it that appears?
We see the scene that appears.
You have an idea of a self who is aware of something. Seeing is not
something ,colour is not something. Hardness here, it really is not
something at all. We change the name from “my knee on the floor “ to
“hardness” and then we might think that we are being aware. But we
still have an idea of some hardness that is here, that is maybe
circular-shaped down here, covering a certain area of my body. We still
have an idea of something lasting there. But hardness is not something
at all. It is not a knee and not the floor, it is even not a little
patch of something down there where your knee touches the floor.
Hardness is not something, the experience of hardness is not something.
They don't last for a moment, for a second.
So, it is not proper to direct awareness?
Absolutely not. When we begin to develop awareness we have so much
accumulated wrong understanding that we cannot help trying to direct the
show. But we have to begin to understand that the directing is not
awareness. If there is any awareness it is not self that is aware and it
cannot be directed. It arises, wherever it arises, by conditions at that
moment. Not because somebody wanted to have awareness at that point, or
“took” his awareness and put it there. Awareness arises because of
conditions and then it falls away immediately. Prior to the moment of
its arising there is not any awareness one can put somewhere. And now we
still have an idea in our minds of “my awareness” but it is gone. We
can't help being full of the idea of self. But the more we understand,
the more we will see that really awareness too is anatta. Not just the
colour, the seeing, the sound and the hearing, but also awareness is
But can't awareness be directed without introducing a self?
By whom, by what? Why bother? If it arises, isn't that good enough? Why
do we have to have any idea of somebody or something taking it and
putting it there?
It is because we have the intention of being aware of certain things.
Why not be aware without intention because in fact, you cannot be aware,
nor can you do anything, just by intention. Intention is anatta, not
self. The condition for the arising of awareness is not an intention to
be aware, but the right understanding. If we would like to change
conditions, we can do so in our thinking, but in reality, we can't. If
it seems to us that we have awareness when we intend to have it, then
that is our thinking. And that is another subject - a very fit one- for
awareness to realize that it is not self who is thinking wrongly at that
moment either. Just another reality. There is no intention in the
eightfold Path, none whatsoever. Intention is not among the eight
factors of the eightfold Path.
Is there any concentration involved?
Yes, there is always concentration. There is concentration with each
moment of consciousness. There is right concentration if there is no
intention to take awareness which does not last anyway and put it
somewhere. Just a moment of awareness and then be aware again of another
object. You can't keep your awareness here or there. That is wrong
concentration. Remember, the whole aim is to see anatta,
uncontrollability. Not to see controllability. So much patience is
required to start straight and to keep going right. We have to let go of
all our ideas of having awareness. We have to drop all our ideas that we
are going to do it right this time, we are going to do it straight, we
are going to have it now, we are going to be aware of this or that. At
those moments there is no awareness. One moment of real awareness in one
lifetime- very rich man because it is right and it will condition more
of the same. Countless moments of wrong awareness and you are not only
not wealthy, you are getting poorer every moment, because you are
accumulating more and more wrong understanding. This will make it more
likely to have more wrong understanding in the future. So, right
understanding, not intention, is the condition for awareness to arise.
Right understanding is not only one of the factors of the eightfold
Path, it is the first factor.
Is it possible to have directed awareness?
There really isn't any directed awareness. We only have the illusion
that it is directed because of our wrong understanding. Awareness must
arise because of conditions. Awareness is wholesome. It does not arise
because of attachment. It arises because of right understanding. It
cannot arise otherwise.
we develop samatha and we have not developed the eightfold Path at all,
then we could not possibly have any idea of the true nature of reality.
So there is bound to be a wrong understanding of self who does it, time
and again. There is also awareness in the development of calm, but it is
not right awareness of the eightfold Path. It only arises in the
development of calm because there are the right conditions for it, and
one of them is right understanding of the way to develop calm. There is
understanding in samatha but it is different from right understanding of
the eightfold Path. The object of right understanding in samatha is a
meditation subject and the object of right understanding of the
eightfold Path is any reality which appears now through one of the six
we have the idea of being able to direct our awareness or our
concentration it is only an idea. Because there is absolutely no lasting
quality to stay around, that can do any directing of any kind. At each
moment there are different mental factors (cetasikas) which perform
different functions, and intention or volition is one of them. In a way,
it directs the accompanying cetasikas, in the sense of being like a
“supervisor”, but it cannot direct the arising of any mental factor
such as panna. It cannot say, “Now panna, arise and do your work.”
But when panna has already arisen because of all the conditions
necessary for its arising, then the volition which has also arisen
because of conditions at that moment is directing the task of panna .
Intention or volition only directs at the moment it has arisen and it
only directs the other mental phenomena which have arisen together with
it. It cannot at this moment direct something which has not yet arisen
to arise and to do something. So here are all the different mental
factors at this moment. They are being urged to perform their task by
this mental factor which is intention. But only those mental factors
which are present at that moment and no others. Intention cannot make
other mental factors arise which have not arisen, or stop other mental
factors from arising, because there is nothing that carries on. The
intention arises and falls away completely.
if you have not got as much awareness as you would like there is nothing
that you can do about it. Do you want more? You can't have more because
of your wish. There may be more, but this depends on the level of one's
understanding, and we may not know what understanding we have yet. We
may have wrong understanding about our understanding and take it for
The problem is that there is so much distraction.
What does this indicate? We don't like to be distracted, do we? We would
prefer to be able to go about our business calmly, peacefully and in an
organized way. We want to get on with the practice, be aware and
understand. Is it self or not-self who thinks like that? It is a
misunderstanding based on our dislike of the way things are at the
moment. We don't have the understanding, the calmness, the steadiness we
would like to have. Very often our aim is not really to understand
whatever appears right now, but to get rid of distraction, to be calmer,
to be steadier, to be more organised, to be somehow other than we are.
What is that, if it is not attachment?
Distraction is just the opposite of what we want.
So, be aware of distraction.
It is the main thing that makes awareness impossible.
No. The main thing that makes awareness impossible is misunderstanding.
There is always restlessness with wrong understanding. At the moment we
don't like our distraction are we then not distracted by our
distraction? Why can't we just be aware of distraction? But, oh no, we
don't like distraction and there we are, thoroughly distracted from
awareness. This happens because of our attachment to a self who does not
want to be distracted.
We know that it is not a skillful state.
But at what level do we realize that? What about the state that is
distracted by distraction? That is equally unskillful and we don't even
know we have it. Instead of learning to be aware of whatever appears we
are being choosey. We don't want to be aware of distraction. We want to
get on with being aware of breath, of body, of feeling, of citta
(consciousness), or of this or that. What about distraction? Is
distraction not included in the four satipatthanas, the objects of
mindfulness? The Buddha did not say, whatever you do, don't be aware of
distraction. What choice do you have? You can't be aware of seeing at
the moment of distraction, because then there is no seeing, there is
distraction. You can't be aware of calm at the moment of distraction,
because there is no calm. Ask yourself, do you really want to be aware
or do you just want calm? Just get rid of the distraction and get on
with whatever we are doing. But what is the point of getting on with
whatever we are doing when it is “we” who are doing it all the time?
There is no awareness, no detachment. What is the point? We are just
perpetuating the illusion of a self who has got a job to do, who wants
to do it and does not like distraction which gets in the way of doing
the job. Then there is no right understanding at all. If there really is
awareness, you are not upset by distraction, because it has just arisen
because of conditions, it is not self. You are aware of it and then you
can be aware of whatever appears next. There can be awareness and right
understanding of what has already appeared because of conditions, only
for one moment though. And then there may be a whole lot of distraction.
You can't do anything about it, anatta. If there is awareness at that
moment something has been done already. Anatta. You can't stop awareness
from arising - it has already arisen.
awareness. I don't think it is what we really want to do at all. We
don't have the intention deep down. We are not really interested very
often. Only at a moment of right understanding is there any interest,
right interest in the object which appears, to see it as it really is.
We are always looking for some other object, trying to change it or make
it last. That is attachment, not detachment.
may be worried, because we have not got enough awareness. We are
comparing ourselves with others, because they know more than us, they
are always aware, always calm. Then there is no awareness, no
detachment. There is just an idea of self at the center of the world. We
may think of what different teachers say, about ways and methods to
develop the path, but then there is no awareness. Because at the moment
of awareness there is no teacher, no person, no name, no address. There
is just the characteristic of nama (mental phenomena) or the
characteristic of rupa (material phenomena). Nama is not a person, a
teacher, a method, a way. Rupa is not a name or address, a date, a self.
So, if we realize that perhaps we have not had very much awareness yet,
that is good, that is right understanding, if it is true. And that is
the way to develop more of it. That is the right way. But we may find it
depressing when we are attached to wanting to be further ahead than we
moment there can be attachment, the next moment, if we have got enough
right understanding accumulated, there can be awareness. The next moment
there can be depression or aversion, because there is not as much
awareness as we wanted, or it did not last as long as we thought it
should, or we had doubt about what we were aware of. We have to be
honest, we have to know the truth. If we don't have much understanding
we should realize that, and then, if we realize that, there is some
understanding, and we can start.
is hard to admit our lack of awareness and understanding. It is hard to
be honest and face the truth. Even if one has some amount of right
understanding that does not mean that one doesn't ever have any wrong
understanding. One may, for example, mistake thinking about a reality
for awareness. There may be wholesome thinking, but that is different
from awareness of realities. We may, for example, be angry and realise
that anger is unwholesome. That is different from awareness and
understanding of anger as just a reality, not “my unwholesomeness”.
Anger is a type of nama which arises and then falls away, it is not
self. Even if one has a basic theoretical understanding one may still
practice in the wrong way.
The difficulty seems to me that awareness is just being aware, and that
there is not any directing. Should one not start by directing?
That is not satipatthana, that is someone, a self who wants to direct.
The only way to develop satipatthana is to start satipatthana, and that
is not someone directing something. When you say start, what do you mean
by starting? Do you mean understanding nama and rupa now, is that
starting? Panna may be so weak, so ephemeral, so fleeting, that
you have no idea whether you understand anything or not. That is
beginning. Beginning is to be overwhelmed with all sorts of doubts,
misgivings and wrong ideas. When you have been practising in the wrong
way and have been trying to direct sati you cannot suddenly change. It
is not so that you can start at once to practise in the right way and
then immediately realize different characteristics of nama and rupa. Let
us talk about beginning. I think we have a rather odd idea of what a
beginning is like. In the beginning, one cannot be full of confidence.
One cannot expect natural awareness and one cannot expect that there
will be no directing. That can only be when awareness has already been
satipatthana has been developed it can arise anywhere and at any time.
It can also arise when you are with friends and are having a good time.
But if one is a beginner one cannot expect sati to arise very often. You
cannot force yourself not to have a good time, and, when you are alone,
will there be more awareness? Sati can arise when right understanding of
nama and rupa has been accumulated. It arises because of conditions, it
is beyond control.
BE HERE NOW
by Bhikkhu Dhammadharo
Awareness is anatta, not self, but can we do anything to make it arise?
Is all we can do just listening and studying?
Dhammadharo: Can “we” listen, can “we” study? Can you in reality
force yourself to study or to understand what is being said now? We are
here in an environment now where Dhamma is being discussed, but aren't
there moments when there is distraction, when we are misunderstanding
what we have heard anyway? We may take it the way we want to take it, or
we may want to make it fit with what we think is the right way.
can't even say “we” can listen, because there will be listening in
the right way as much as conditions will allow. There will be studying
of Dhamma in the right way as much as conditions will allow, no more. It
is not self. Hearing now is not self. Studying is not self Right
attention is not self. So, if we think that we can study and we can
listen we are misleading ourselves. We can be aware while studying and
listening, in order to learn that such moments are not self. The more we
listen in the right way, if there are conditions for it, the more will
we understand the difference between just thinking and being aware. We
will understand the difference between trying to control realities and
just letting awareness arise naturally and being aware of what appears
for one brief moment.
understanding only develops little by little. Some of us have been here
with this Dhamma group for two or three years. But this is nothing
compared with the number of lives we might have to carry on. Because we
could die today and we don't know where we will be born, and we don't
know whether there will be any conditions for a Dhamma group in a next
life. Look how many years it has taken us to find out what we are
finding out now. Who knows how long we will live. We may worry that
understanding develops so slowly. What is the use of worrying and
thinking, I did not find out soon enough “, or “I am not going to
have long enough to study”, or, “I have got to find out faster.”
That is all attachment. We are not developing detachment. In a next life
conditions may be better or worse, we do not know. Why not develop
understanding in this life?
should listen more and study realities more. We may be clinging to the
image of a self who should not be like this or like that. We cannot face
up to the realities which are really us. We wish to deny that we have
wrong understanding, that we are selfish or jealous. How can we know
jealousy as it really is if we are struggling and trying to pretend that
there isn't any? We may try to hide from it, to push it away, to give it
another name, but that is useless. Do we consider ourselves as
“somebody”? We may refrain from unwholesome deeds because we want to
be “the nice person”, the “holy person”, and receive all the
nice compliments we are so attached to. Or do we refrain from akusala
because there is right understanding which truly sees akusala as
do we want to be with what we are doing? Doesn't it make us f eel
comfortable and secure when we feel that we are with what we are doing?
It is all attachment. It is not awareness, it is not detachment, it is
not wisdom. It causes us more suffering. We go on trying to be attached.
If we are not attached to what appears through the ears we are attached
to what appears through the eyes. If there is the development of right
understanding we are not searching for... comfort or security, we are
not upset, not looking for something that has not appeared. We are not
searching for an object to be aware of, we are just aware of whatever
I don't think that it is possible to be aware without being with what
you are doing.
We certainly cannot be aware of the past. We cannot be aware of the
future. So, it is only the present, that which appears right now,
that can be the object of awareness. But if you call that “being here
now”, or “being with what you are doing”, we have to clarify that.
We have to explain how to be here now with awareness, this is very
different from being here now with any form of attachment, no matter how
are we attached to now? When we look around here, can we avoid being
attached to what we see here? We are attached immediately to colour
appearing through the eyedoor. That is being here now with attachment.
We have attachment time and again, we have no need to practise it. It
arises because there are conditions for its arising.
here now with awareness, and this means that we do not try to have a
feeling of comfort or security. There can be awareness just for a moment
and then after that who knows which reality arises, it can be
attachment, aversion or ignorance again.
nama and rupa which arise right now we mistake for something that can
stay, that can continue. That illusion can be destroyed through
awareness and right understanding. When there is no awareness there is
the illusion of things carrying on, because there are conditions which
make things appear as they are not. How can we destroy the illusion when
there are conditions for wrong understanding, and not for right
we want to be here now with attachment it is very hard to know what is
going on in reality, and we don't see the characteristic of awareness at
all. It is mixed up in our own idea of a self who wants to be here now
and who wants to be aware.
have conditions for the arising of attachment and to be with it without
having to do much about it. We want to enjoy colour, sound, smell, taste
and touch. That is the second noble Truth, tanha, clinging or thirst. We
have a thirst for sights, sounds, odours, flavours and touches. What
does it do for us? It brings us misery. It brings as result unpleasant
sights, sounds or touches. It separates us from touches that are
pleasant. It causes us to be ill and to experience pain. In trying to be
here now with attachment one could perform unwholesome deeds. One may
kill or steal. One may do all sorts of things in order to have pleasant
experiences. What does ones kill for? For sights, sounds, smells,
flavours and touches that one can enjoy. What concern is there at such
moments for other people's happiness? There is thorough forgetfulness on
all levels. There is no generosity, no restraint, there is no helping of
other people. Let alone awareness. We are thoroughly distracted by
colour or sound.
are attached to nature, to hearing birds. One may think that there is no
attachment if one does not want to get something for oneself. There are
many degrees of attachment, it can be coarse or more subtle. As soon as
we like nature or the sound of birds there is attachment. If one is
aware of sound and realizes it as just a kind of rupa appearing through
the ears, there is no bird in the sound. There are many kinds of sounds,
loud or soft, high or low, but sound can be known as just sound. This is
the way to develop understanding which will lead to detachment.
one sees realities as they are who would want to be here now. Realities
arise and fall away, they are dukkha, suffering. We have a thirst for
nature, for this or for that. Even for a certain kind of practice which
is “having awareness now”. Instead of being aware of whatever
appears we are trying to make something come which we don't even fully
understand. One may perhaps think that understanding will make one enjoy
life more. One does not see how much attachment one has and how one is
actually trying to get more.
there is the idea of a person, the whole body, a thing, thus, a
“whole” there is an idea of “self" or “mine”. When there
is awareness of now this element then that element, there will be the
disintegration of the self. Now this element, now that. Not a dog, a
man, a woman, a house or a place. Not a whole body. Not nature. Nature
is odour, sound, smell, visible object and touch. Different rupas
through different sense-doors. There is no nature which is a whole,
which is desirable. Dukkha, unsatisfactory is not sukha, pleasant.
Different elements can be known one at a time through the six doorways.
This will lead to detachment. Things are not as we would like them to be
and they never will. They are as they are. They arise and then fall away
again. We should see the truth of disintegration. There are moments of
consciousness, citta, and accompanying mental factors, cetasikas, which
arise and fall away, no self.
What does attachment aim at?
To keep the object.
What is the main reason why it is no good?
Attachment is the condition for suffering. You cannot possibly have
aversion if you don't have attachment. There is nobody who wants
aversion. Nobody likes to dislike, to hate, to be angry they want to be
happy. But aversion is conditioned by attachment which we believe makes
us happy. We are fighting a losing battle the whole time, trying to be
happy through attachment. We try to avoid misery through attachment. But
this is the cause of more misery, again and again. Attachment can cause
one to kill, steal or to perform other unwholesome deeds, which can
condition rebirth in lower planes and the experience of unpleasant
objects also in the human plane.
would not want to steal, take and keep something if one did not have the
wrong view that there was something there to keep. Attachment to wrong
view conditions many kinds of unwholesomeness. One may believe that
there is something there that can be kept and enjoyed. And someone to
enjoy it. One may think, “I get it now, and I enjoy it now”.
One may believe that something has carried on from the moment of getting
it to the moment of enjoying it. However, there are only different
realities which arise and then fall away. Also understanding arises and
falls away. There is no self who has understanding. Understanding today
is not the understanding of yesterday, which fell away as soon as it
arose. Also understanding today falls away.
wants to be aware now? Would we rather wait until we are in are better
mood or until it is quiet: One may find that there are too many people
around, one wants to think first. There is always something else to do
instead of being aware of the reality which appears now. If there is no
awareness now how can there be any conditions for awareness tonight,
tomorrow or next year? The only way that there can be awareness in the
future is awareness now, without selecting the object of awareness, or
the time for awareness. One may think that it is not the time for
awareness when one enjoys oneself. Or one may set a certain time for
awareness, for example, one hour a day. There can be awareness when
there are conditions for it. There will never be conditions for it so
long as we are trying to control it, to direct it, to do certain things
first in order to have more awareness. One may be inclined to think,
“If I could only get rid of this pain in my back, if people would turn
the radio down first, if I could be alone, then I could be aware.”
Can't one be aware of sound, be it loud or soft? It is the reality which
can be heard. So long as you are not aware you have the idea of
“somebody” putting on the music too loud. And then you have just
aversion. There is no awareness of sound, of thinking, of aversion,
because one is full of an idea of “self” who is upset by what other
“selves” are doing. The aim of right understanding is not to avoid
being upset. If we believe that we should be aware in order not to be
unhappy, not to have aversion, then there is still an impure motivation.
Happiness and unhappiness should be known as they are: conditioned
realities, not self.
may have one's own idea of what awareness is. One may consider it as a
means to control, to have less unpleasant feeling. One's real aim may be
just to be peaceful, relaxed, undisturbed, undistracted. One's aim may
not be understanding whatever appears, be it the reality of happiness or
the reality of visible object. If it is a pleasant object, does one want
to be aware of it? Does one want it to last, or does one want to see
that one can never have more of the same, that it does not last?
Can one be enjoying something and be aware at the same time?
These are different moments. Visible object can be seen, and when right
understanding is being developed we will know that there is no “it”
to be enjoyed. Visible object is not something, not a flower. We may
say, “I know that it is not a flower, only visible object or
colour”. We may say that, but there may still be an idea of
“something”. We may believe that colour is something lasting. You
can't really enjoy it, because it falls away. If you were to see that
visible object falls away there would be detachment eventually. Do we
really want detachment? We should be honest with ourselves. If we
realize that what we mainly want is enjoyment, happiness, there is
understanding at that moment. We are facing up to the truth that we are
not people who are full of awareness and right understanding all day
long. It is better to know that than not to know that.
should be sobering. I like the word sobering as a description of the
development of the eightfold Path. Are we really interested in this?
Don't we prefer to be intoxicated with colour, sound, smell, flavour and
tangible object? However, awareness and right understanding of what
appears now should sober us up really. It is the purpose of the
development of the eightfold Path. Arahats are incapable of any kind of
laughter that would make their bodies shake, they could not make loud,
unpleasant sounds. They can only smile in a refined manner, in a sober
we are enjoying ourselves why should we not be aware, or learn to begin
to be aware? In order to know pleasant feeling as it is there has to be
awareness of it. Sooner or later we have to be aware of visible object.
We should not worry about its pleasantness or unpleasantness, we should
not be so interested in that. We should just see it as that which
appears through the eyes, not a thing or a person. Through awareness one
will be less concerned about the objects which are experienced.
we know sound and hearing as they really are? They appear at this
moment. Hearing is not sound, and sound is not hearing, they are
different realities. At the moment of seeing, there can't be hearing or
thinking. One cannot see and hear at the same time. Seeing experiences
an object different from hearing. Although cittas arise and fall away so
fast that it seems that there can be seeing and hearing at the same
time, in reality they are different moments of citta. We can distinguish
seeing from hearing, we know that they are different experiences, but we
know this through intellectual understanding. when direct understanding
has been developed their different characteristics can be realized more
is different from thinking of the meaning of the sound. Thinking can
only arise because hearing has fallen away. Hearing falls away and then
there are other realities to follow in its train. There can be awareness
of one reality at a time, either a nama or rupa.
we cannot have awareness because of our wish, awareness can arise now,
depending on conditions. It does not depend on us, not on intention, but
on many conditions the chief of which is right understanding. Through
listening to the Dhamma and studying it, considering it carefully,
intellectual understanding is being accumulated. In this way conditions
are being built up for the arising of right awareness of one reality at
a time. We cannot induce the arising of right awareness, it all depends
on the understanding which has been accumulated. At the moment of
awareness of a nama or rupa understanding of its true characteristic can
gradually be developed. This is a kind of study, not the study of the
level of intellectual understanding, but study of realities while there
cannot be awareness all the time of every object, there cannot be many
moments in succession. Nobody knows in advance of what object there will
be awareness and when there will be awareness. This can be very
conducive to detachment. Studying and listening is an essential
condition for awareness. One should consider what one hears and apply
it, and be aware.
I still have doubts whether one can do anything to be aware.
We cannot control anything. You cannot control seeing or hearing. You
don't know what you are going to hear next, or whether you are even
going to hear. Could one become blind and deaf now? We can't control
anything in life. Could one make oneself angry now? If so, it is because
there are conditions for it. If somebody would tell others that they
should be angry now, perhaps not everybody could be angry. They might
try, but it might not be possible. Some people may just laugh, others
may be aware. It is not only awareness you can't control. We cannot even
control wrong practice. One may take wrong practice for the right
practice, and one would like to have more of it than conditions allow.
We can't control anything. But with right understanding there can be
more awareness. If we listen to true Dhamma in the right way, over and
over again, with right attention, and learn to be aware little by
little, right understanding develops.
are ways for everything to happen by conditions. We are more familiar
with attachment or anger. But who is familiar with awareness yet? It has
to be developed. It is easy to have attachment, but it is difficult to
be aware, awareness is not the object of attachment. .
awareness arises it is being developed. Right understanding develops
little by little, when there is infinite patience. You can't be patient
because you want to be, but with right understanding patience will take
care of itself, when the right conditions are present, and not when the
right conditions are not present. If there are not the right conditions
for awareness that explains why we do not have awareness. And if there
are the right conditions that explains why there is awareness. We should
never forget that awareness is not self, we should not take the credit
for it. If we are attached to awareness and think that we made it arise,
then there is no end to our troubles, no end to the cycle of birth and
death. Awareness is anatta. It is of no use to be attached to it, cling
to it or to be proud of ourselves for having awareness. One has to be
aware of awareness too.