Noting the Object

I read a few pages from Ven. Saydaw U Pandita’s book The State of Mind Called Beautiful. This is a great book for yogis practicing the technique of Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw. I found many excellent passages. The following instructions struck a chord with me.

p. 88. A meditator’s mind must continuously enter and penetrate the object. The mind should sink into its object (
pavattati) at all times. When an object arises the mind has to be with it all the time, second by second, not losing sight of it. This is the function of mindfulness called asammosa rasa, meaning non-forgetfulness or keeping the object in view. One must no longer miss or forget the object, and not slip off from it.

p.89. A meditator who makes an honest, respectful effort to note each arising object will attain concentration and wisdom – – provided that his or her mindfulness is also strong in the preceding and succeeding moments. Then, too, he or she will gain the power to note the object automatically. This happens particularly at the time of the fourth insight knowledge (the fourth naana), the insight into the arising and passing away of objects. One sees dramatically the rapidity with which objects arise and pass away.
Between this and the fifth insight knowledge, which focuses on the dissolution of all objects, mindful noting still seems to be moving slower than the objects themselves. This is true for everybody during those stages of practice, no matter how diligently and continuously they are practicing. It is simply part of the unfolding of the insights.

Advertisements

Dream Visions

When I was 19, before I became Buddhist, I had three dream visions in one night. I woke each time deeply impressed. I can still remember these visions clearly almost 30 years later. I agree, I’m not a good artist, nor a skilful user of Gimp, the painting program.

Mountain top storm
Standing on the peak of a mountain at night in a raging storm raging. Rain, thunder and lightning. Straining against the strong wind.
Good and evil forces in a competition above Earth
Floating above the Earth between night and day sides. Good and evil forces seem to combat like ghosts around the Earth. For a while the to and fro of the struggle shows the outcome is uncertain. Finally the good forces overcome evil.
Afternoon tea with two aunties
A large house in the country, a refuge. Tired and worn, I enter and meet two kind aunties who serve tea and cakes. We sit and chat. They lovingly reassure me that everything will be alright. I relax, at peace.

Escape the Sinking Burning Ship

The following simile is one of my attempts to explain what motivates me to take the Dhamma journey, simplify life, meditate and so on. People see things in quite different ways, with different values, different assumptions and knowledge about reality. This leads people to adopt different behaviour and morality. Because of how we view reality we take diverse paths that tend toward further suffering or tend toward liberation.

Imagine that we are all on a ship that is on fire and sinking. Some passengers just party, party, party until the ship sinks. Other passengers become depressed and helpless and some in this camp even suicide. Some passengers panic and go crazy. Most passengers either don’t know or choose to ignore the fact that the ship is on fire and sinking. This is despite the ship listing and smelling of smoke. Of course some parts of the ship are worse than other parts.

However, a minority of passengers believe there is an escape, a way off the ship. Someone in the past found the way to get off. The believers study and practice the method of escape. Sometimes their practice attempts give them glimpses that it escape is really possible and this gives them confidence to keep trying. Some energetic passengers actually escape and then, from a safe external point, also help other believing passengers escape.

Even when the former passengers who escaped stand in that safe point to explain the method of escape, most passengers still don’t believe that escape is possible, or even if it were possible, they don’t believe it is a good thing to do. These passengers don’t like escaping because they have to leave behind all their friends and nice things on the comfortable parts of the burning sinking ship. They would lose their investments. They also don’t know or understand what they might be escaping to, escape seems risky. It is all too hard and so they prefer not to think about it.

Some passengers who don’t believe escape is possible and want to enjoy life on the sinking burning ship criticise the escaping passengers for being “selfish” for not wanting to be with passengers who are apparently enjoying life on the ship. These critics don’t see the virtue of escaping, and then from the safe place, helping other passengers to escape. Another group of ship passengers are delighted that there are sincere escaping people and fully support them in the hope that the once these people escape, they will be able to reach back from the safe point and also help them and other passengers on the sinking burning ship.

What happens when the burning sinking ship sinks and everyone goes down with it? They are all reborn on yet another sinking burning ship and most of them have to live in worse conditions than the conditions they were living on the previous ship. They also forget that there were on other burning sinking ships in previous lives. The reborn escape believers have more fortunate rebirths on the burning sinking ship and may soon escape themselves, even though most of them also forget their previous births. This is kamma.

The simile of a sinking burning ship refers to this life where we are all ageing, suffering sickness and face inevitable death. The burning sinking ship represents the unsatisfactory nature of life. I believe in the Buddha Dhamma that teaches a way to escape ageing, sickness and death. I have practiced and become confident in this path. I believe that escape is possible in this life. I believe that I may be able to help others to escape. This is a worthy goal.

There is a great potential reward for supporters who are happy to see escapees attempting to get off the burning sinking boat. The opposite is also true. Not many people are aware of this.

Strategic Intent Supported by Attention

Our habitual mental states, our daily intentions and inclinations generate kamma. Lord Buddha encouraged us to diligently restrain the six sense doors and to wisely attend the skillful mental states that lead away from suffering and toward liberation.

Samyuttanikaaya SN.II.12.38. Volition (เจตนาสูตรที่)

At Saavatii. “Bhikkhus, what one intends, and what one plans, and whatever one has a tendency towards: this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is a basis there is support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is established and has come to growth, there is the production of future renewed existence. When there is the production of future renewed existence, future birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

“If bhikkhus, one does not intend, and one does not plan, but one still has a tendency towards something, this becomes the basis for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is a basis, there is a support for the establishing of consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

“But, bhikkhus, when one does not intend, and one does not plan, and one does not have a tendency towards anything, no basis exists for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is no basis, there is no support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is unestablished and does not come to growth, there is no production of future renewed existence, future birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”

Samyuttanikaaya SN.IV.35.97. Dwelling Negligently (ปมาทวิหารีสูตร)

“Bhikkhus, I will teach you about one who dwells negligently, and about one who dwells diligently.. Listen to that…

“And how, bhikkhus, does one dwell negligently? If one dwells without restraint over the eye faculty, the mind is soiled among forms cognizable by the eye. If the mind is soiled there is no gladness. When there is no gladness, there is no rapture. When there is no rapture, there is no tranquillity. When there is no tranquillity, one dwells in suffering. The mind of one who suffers does not become concentrated. When the mind is not concentrated, phenomena do not become manifest. Because phenomena do not become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells negligently.’

“If one dwells without restraint over the ear… nose…tongue…body…mind faculty, the mind is soiled among mental phenomena congnizable by the mind…. Because phenomena do not become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells negligently.’

“It is in such a way, bhikkhus, that one dwells negligently.

“And how, bhikkhus, does one dwell diligently? If one dwells with restraint over the eye faculty… ear faculty … nose faculty… tongue faculty… body faculty… mind faculty, the mind is not soiled among forms cognizable by the eye. If the mind is not soiled, gladness is born. When one is gladdened, rapture is born. When the mind is uplifted by rapture, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body experiences happiness. The mind of one who is happy becomes concentrated. When the mind is concentrated, phenomena become manifest. Because phenomena become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells diligently.’

“It is in such a way, bhikkhus, that one dwells diligently.”

Majjhimanikaaya MN.19.11. Dvedhaavitakka Sutta: Two Kinds of Thought (เทวธาวิตักกสูตร)

“Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of renunciation, he has abandoned the thought of sensual desire to cultivate the thought of renunciation, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of renunciation. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of non-ill will…upon thoughts of non-cruelty, he has abandoned the thought of cruelty to cultivate the thought of non-cruelty, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of non-cruelty.

Samyuttanikaaya SN.V.45.91. Dwelling Diligently (วิรัทธสูตร)

At Saavatii. “Bhikkhus, just as the river Ganges slants, slopes, and inclines towards the east, so too a bhikkhu who develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path slants, slopes, and inclines towards Nibbaana…

Samyuttanikaaya SN.V.45.152. The Tree (อัตตสัมปทาสูตรที่)

“Bhikkhus, suppose a tree were slanting, sloping, and inclining towards the east. If it were cut at its root, in what direction would it fall?”

“In whatever direction it was slanting, sloping and inclining venerable sir.”
“So too, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path slants, slopes, and inclines towards Nibaana….

Samyuttanikaaya SN.V.46.23. A Basis (ฐานิยสูตร)

“Bhikkhus, by frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for sensual lust, unarisen sensual desire arises and unarisen sensual desire increases and expands. By frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for ill will, unarisen ill will arises and arisen ill will increases and expands. By frequently giving attention to things that are the basis for sloth and torpor, unarisen sloth and torpor arise, and arisen sloth and torpor increase and expand. By frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for restlessness and remorse, unarisen restlessness and remorse arise and arisen restlessness and remorse increase and expand. By frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for doubt, unarisen doubt arises and arisen doubt increases and expands.

“Bhikkhus, by frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for the enlightenment factor of mindfulness, the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness arises and the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness comes to fulfilment by development … By frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for the enlightenment factor of equanimity, the unarisen enlightenment factor of equanimity arises and the arisen enlightenment factor of equanimity comes to fulfilment by development.”

Samyuttanikaaya SN.V.46.24 Careless Attention (อโยนิโสสูตร)

“Bhikkhus, when one attends carelessly, unarisen sensual desire arises and arisen sensual desire increases and expands; when one attends carelessly, unarisen ill will arises and arisen ill will increases and expands; when one attends carelessly, unarisen sloth and torpor arise and arisen sloth and torpor increase and expand…restlessness and remorse…doubt… Also the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness does not arise and the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness ceases … the unarisen enlightenment factor of equanimity does not arise and the arisen enlightenment factor of equanimity ceases.

“When one attends carefully, bhikkhus, unarisen sensual desire does not arise and arisen sensual desire is abandoned. When one attends carefully, unarisen ill-will… sloth and torpor… restlessness and remorse.. doubt does not arise and arisen doubt is abandoned. Also the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness arises and the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness comes to fulfilment by development… the unarisen enlightenment factor of equanimity arises and the arisen enlightenment factor of equanimity comes to fulfilment by development.

Majjhimanikaaya MN.2. Sabbaasava Sutta: All the Taints (สัพพาสวสังวรสูตร)

3. “Bhikkhus, I say that the destruction of the taints is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know and see. Who knows and what? Wise attention and unwise attention. When one attends unwisely, unarisen taints arise and arisen taints increase. When one attends wisely, unarisen taints do not arise and arisen taints are abandoned.

4. “Bhikkhus, there are taints that should be abandoned by seeing. There are taints that should be abandoned by restraining. There are taints that should be abandoned by using. There are taints that should be abandoned by enduring. There are taints that should be abandoned by avoiding. There are taints that should be abandoned by removing. There are taints that should be abandoned by developing.

Albany – Esperance

Last week I went on an information gathering trip from Perth to Albany and Esperance and back to Perth with a work colleague. We drove a new vehicle along the Albany Highway to Albany, the South Coast Highway via Ravensthorpe (and Hopetoun) to Esperance and passed through many small country towns along the way. We met and interviewed local officials who emphasised various issues. It was very interesting and I learned a lot about the region. We saw many blue gum plantations, grain fields, roads, port and mining facilities and learned about water, power and transport infrastructure in these regions.

I have been to Albany several times and last went there in January this year on holiday with my children. This work trip was the first time I have ever been to Esperance. It is a lovely town with a population of around 15,000. It would be an ideal place for a family holiday.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the landscape of the Great Southern and lower Goldfield Esperance regions. We passed through the Fitzgerald River National Park and the Cape Le Grand National Park. Both parks have quite spectacular rock formations and beaches. While passing through these places, my colleague and I both commented on how lovely it would be to live in close proximity to these beautiful places. These must have deep cultural significance for the Aboriginal people who live in the region now and in the past.