Episode 44

May 12, 2024


Samādhi-Bhāvanā | Ajahn Maha Boowa

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Sol Hanna
Samādhi-Bhāvanā | Ajahn Maha Boowa
The Forest Path Podcast
Samādhi-Bhāvanā | Ajahn Maha Boowa

May 12 2024 | 00:47:37


Show Notes

This episode is a talk given by the Thai forest meditation master Ajahn Maha Boowa and is titled “Samādhi-Bhāvanā”. It was first publish as part of the book “kammaṭṭhāna - the basis of practice” which was translated by monks at Wat Pah Ban Taad.

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Episode Transcript

SAMĀDHI-BHĀVANĀ To practise the method of sitting in samādhi-bhāvanā (concen- tration meditation), it is taught that one should sit cross-legged following the style of the Buddha statue: putting the right leg over the left leg, right hand over left and placing both hands on the lap. Set the body straight, as normal, not leaning too much to the front or back, nor to the left or right so it becomes abnormal. One should not press or tighten any parts of the body, which only forces the body into unnecessary hardship. One should leave all the parts of the body in their usual and normal state. When beginning the work of bhāvanā (cultivation), it should be one’s sole interest. One should not worry about the posture of the body that one has established by fearing that it might have moved from the original position. This will cause more concern for the body than for the mind (citta), and your meditation (samādhi-bhāvanā) will not progress smoothly. Therefore, once one begins working with the mind (citta- bhāvanā) there should be no concern for the body. One should maintain one’s attention on the work of the heart (citta) until it is time to withdraw from samādhi-bhāvanā. In the beginning of the practice of citta-bhāvanā (cultivation of the heart), the awareness and the mind (citta) should be established in the present (paccuppanna dhamma). This means observing the change and movement of the citta and observing the various dhamma objects (ārammaṇa), both those goodand those bad. The observation should be done more intently during this time than at any other time. It is fixing the citta in the present and maintaining mindfulness (sati) with the heart which reminds one that one is about to begin the work at that moment. Please be careful not to send the citta out to the various kinds of objects (ārammaṇa), both good and bad, past and future. All that has to be attended to is the work of preparatory meditation (parikamma-bhāvanā) that is going on at that time. The Method of Setting up Sati in the Present The citta, by its nature, only knows. There is no wisdom nor any intelligence in itself. It only knows thinking, knows remembering, knows hot, knows cold, from the various objects with which it comes into contact. There is no wisdom nor intelligence – it does not know how to investigate, analyze, or judge, as to what is right or wrong. That is, alone in itself, it neither knows good nor bad; right nor wrong. It must depend on sati-paññā, that which perceives, analyzes, reflects, directs and protects, because sati-paññā has power over the citta. It is well capable of knowing the various kinds of alluring objects (ārammaṇa) the citta is interested in. Therefore, one should establish the kind of mindfulness that has power over the citta in the present. One should maintain the work of observing and protecting the citta from going out to ārammaṇas other than the one that is being used in the meditation (bhāvanā). The result from a constant maintenance of mindfulness (sati) in protecting the citta is sati-sampajañña (clear knowing), which one should definitely have as one’s possession during that time or at a later time. In the practice of bhāvanā by way of a parikamma (mental recitation using any particular dhamma object), one should select the object that suits one’s character and should not use one that doesn’t suit it. Whatever dhamma object suits the Heart at that time, that should be used in the parikamma- bhāvanā following the above explanation. The Method of Mental Recitation (Parikamma-Bhāvanā) In doing parikamma-bhāvanā, one can use any dhamma object that suits one’s character. For example, one can begin reciting – ‘buddho; dhammo; sangho’; repeating these three times. After this one may repeatedly recite just one dhamma object with sati. But if one were to use any dhamma object other than the above three, one should still at first repeat the ‘buddho; dhammo; sangho’, dhamma objects three times. This is the Ti-ratana: the Triple Gem. From then on one can use one’s chosen dhamma object, e.g. ‘aṭṭhi... aṭṭhi...,’ or ‘taco... taco...’, or ānāpānasati. The reason for doing parikamma-bhāvanā with a dhamma object directing the Heart during that (or any other) time is to establish an ārammaṇa that the Heart can use as an anchor when there is need for calm. The nature of the Heart is very fine and subtle yet it cannot depend on itself because the citta is still not completely itself – unlike those of the Lord Buddha and the Arahants. It must depend on a dhamma as a parikamma object for tying the Heart – or as an ārammaṇa for the Heart – during this time. In doing parikamma-bhāvanā with any dhamma object, one should not speculate as to what the result will be at that particular time. For example, one might speculate that the calmness will be of a particular type: all sorts of nimitta will appear, or one might see the various levels of heaven and hell. These are speculations and conjectures, creating disturbances for the Heart. There is no benefit from drawing up these images. It might cause fear and discouragement which is contrary to the purpose of correctly taught bhāvanā. The correct way is to set up the citta and sati in the present, having only the parikamma object as the ārammaṇa of the Heart. The Heart and mindfulness must constantly attend to the parikamma object, e.g. ‘buddho, buddho...’, and it should be done continuously with sati. One should also set up awareness with the parikamma object, and not allow the citta to unmindfully wander off to other things (that is, other ārammaṇas). The more the citta, sati, and the parikamma object are continuously harmonized, the closer the purpose of bhāvanā is being approached. The result is peacefulness and tranquility, or some other remarkable experience that one had never seen previously and which will arise during this time to those who have the ability (vāsanā). These will arise of themselves, due to the power of maintaining the mind with the parikamma object, having mindfulness as the controlling factor. There is nothing else that can magically cause them to appear. What should be Noted and Watched For during Bhāvanā The general understanding of most people about the purpose of doing bhāvanā is to see heaven and hell and to see the kamma of oneself and others. Concerning this point, the one who is truly interested in the essence of Dhamma should please observe while doing bhāvanā whether the citta has any concern for these objects or not. If there is, one should be careful not to let them arise if one is doing bhāvanā for peace, tranquility, and happiness in the heart which is the true and correct way. For these things are not good as one understands them to be: on the contrary, it is the start of going down the wrong path. This is due to the nature of the citta: it can acquire a belief in those things that it likes although there is no truth in them. If these things are followed long enough, they might arise as a real image. This is difficult to correct, especially for one who is interested in this path, and then there arise those things that one thinks truly exist and that one likes. It will form a strong, never decreasing conviction and it will not be easy for one to agree with others. This is related here in advance so that one can observe and be careful not to let the citta go in that direction. If one does, one might just turn out to be a pathetic and disgusting practitioner of bhāvanā, although one is still so conceited and upholds one’s thoughts and views as being correct and is ready to teach others to follow one’s path. Once the citta is inclined to believe in any particular thing, even if it is wrong, it will see it as right. Therefore, it is a quite difficult problem to correct because the nature of the citta is very delicate and it is very hard to know the good and bad of all the various kinds of ārammaṇa that the citta can become involved with. This is because the internal knowledge that arises out of practising bhāvanā is very intricate and complex, and it is very difficult to judge what is right and what is wrong. One who practises without an Ācariya (teacher) to supervise and instruct, will have to speculate and guess, making these conjectures the nutriment for the citta and will proudly think that this is the truth and praise them as nice and beautiful – although others might find it difficult to agree! The practice of bhāvanā without the application of honest investigation (vicāraṇā–ñāṇa) is just like this. You will assume everything to be correct. When relating to others, you will not listen to yourself to see if what you have said was correct or not. You will assume that you are correct and go on to excess. The resulting damage is not only to the one who is not circumspect, careful, introspective, and who knows no moderation, but also to the circle of the Sāsana, which is the gathering point. One should be very cautious and careful about this. The Correct Way of doing Parikamma-Bhāvanā is to be Solely Mindful of the Parikamma Object The practitioner of bhāvanā should be only interested in the parikamma object while sitting in parikamma-bhāvanā. There should not be any concern with a sitting position that has already been established correctly. During bhāvanā one’s attention must be devoted to the work of parikamma. The body may move forward or back, left or right, but this is due to the lack of interest for the body, because the sole interest is being devoted to the work of bhāvanā. Therefore, even though the body might lean somewhat, the important thing is not to let the citta lean away from the object of meditation. What is really essential here is the doing of bhāvanā. If the citta is constantly concerned about the body, fearing that it might lean forward or backward, this causes the citta to forget about the bhāvanā object. It will then not be able to enter into the subtle level which one should be able to realise in accordance with one’s ability. In order to allow the citta to perform at full capacity during that time, there should not be any concern for the external body. The attention should be fixed solely on the bhāvanā object, until the citta becomes calm and knows the truth about itself in accordance with the established goal. When the citta has entered into the calm state of bhavaṅga (the resting state where all awareness of external things, like the body, for example, disappears) and after withdrawing from that state one might see that the body may have leaned into some other position. There should not be any doubt or questioning about whether the body remained fixed in the position that was originally established or not. Worrying about the body and Heart, besides creating disturbances for the citta that does not know its duty, will turn the results that should arise from that time to nothing but confusion between the body and Heart during the time of bhāvanā, without oneself even knowing it. One should understand this from the time when one first starts doing bhāvanā. The Base Location of the Ārammaṇas in the Citta Some types of kammaṭṭhāna – the ārammaṇas of the citta – have their base within themselves. For instance: hair of the head, hair of the body, nails and teeth. They all have the base within themselves. Some parts of the skin are established as the base and known as to where they are. Those are the things that are established – one should note that they do exist. The particular ārammaṇas of the kammaṭṭhāna (at any particular location, high or low) have fixed bases within themselves. For example, the teeth are in the mouth. The hair on the head rests in a high position. Other objects, such as the skin, hair of the body, sinews and bones, are located generally: everywhere. It is up to the individual’s choice to establish any number of these objects as the ārammaṇas of kammaṭṭhāna and to know their respective locations. Once those objects are established as the ārammaṇas according to their respective bases (which can be located either high or low) one should note them according to these bases. During bhāvanā, when attention is being fixed on any one of these objects chosen as the ārammaṇa, only the object should be noted rather than its location, whether it is higher or lower than originally established. This is the same as if when sitting in samādhi the body leans somewhat as explained above. This is not important. The location, either high or low, that was originally established should be left as it is. One should not constantly re-establish a kammaṭṭhāna that has already been established thinking that it has moved away from the original position. If it is re-established according to the understanding of the Heart, this will cause concern with the location of the objects. One’s attention in practising bhāvanā with the kammaṭṭhāna object will not be fully and clearly established. For example: one establishes the skull and concentrates the attention on this object as the ārammaṇa, until there appears a very clear image as if it is seen with the physical eyes. But then there arises the understanding that the skull has moved from the upper to the lower base (which is contrary to the truth). Following this understanding, one then re-establishes the object. This is creating doubts and speculations for the Heart, preventing it from investigating the object so that it can become firmly established. The proper way is to establish that object within one’s awareness or within the field of vision of that object, fully mindful all the time. If the image of that object becomes larger or smaller, or if it is broken up completely, one should just observe according to what has manifested, without having any concern with the position (whether high or low) that had originally been established. By doing so, it will make the citta firmly absorbed and there will arise a sadness and weariness with the established object which manifests with full impact its changing condition. It is the same way with the establishing of the breath and its base. When it is established, for example, at the tip of the nose, as one becomes immersed in observing the breath with interest, there might arise the uncertainty that the breath has moved from the tip of the nose to some other place. So, one re-establishes it back at the nose. This is disturbing oneself due to one’s assumptions and the results will not appear because doubts and uncertainties have appeared instead. To be correct and not have any worry with the various bases, one should practise following the above instructions for all the other objects. One should clearly and constantly know the breath that passes in and out with sati, until reaching the end of the breath. Even if one thinks that the base of the breath appears higher or lower or is away from what was originally established, it should not destroy the work of establishing. Practicing this way will make the citta and the breath merge firmly and completely until the end of bhāvanā or the end of the breath. The Breath Disappears from the Awareness Sometimes, when doing ānāpānasati bhāvanā, the breath reaches the end – it disappears. The Heart reaches the end and converges completely into oneness having no responsibility for the breath. It exists singularly, eka-citta, having only one ārammaṇa: ‘knowingness’. It is no longer involved with anything. In the way of samādhi-bhāvanā, this is known as ‘complete concentration’ (appanā-samādhi). But, in the case of a practitioner of ānāpānasati-bhāvanā, when the breath becomes subtle and disappears, there is often fear. One fools oneself into thinking that one must die if there is no breath. As soon as one does this, the breath reappears and becomes as coarse as it was originally. Correspondingly, the citta becomes coarser. In the end, the work of bhāvanā does not progress any further than the stage of fearing death, for one moves the citta and the breath back to the level where one thinks that one does not die. There are many cases like this in the circle of practice. It is related here because it might have happened to some practitioners of ānāpānasati bhāvanā who might have been fooled by this deception. In doing bhāvanā for seeing the truth of the breath (in the practice of ānāpānasati bhāvanā), please observe the breath with mindfulness until reaching the end of the breath and the citta. One will clearly experience with boldness the marvel of passing through the fear of death during the time when one understands that the breath has disappeared. That is to say, when one is developing the practice of ānāpānasati until the breath becomes subtle and disappears from the awareness. Please, understand that even if the breath really disappears, as long as the ‘knowingness’ (the Heart) is still with the body, regardless of what happens, one will not die. If the breath ceases, let it cease. If anything in the body should cease with the breath, let it cease, according to its nature. As for the Heart, it does not cease, does not die with these things but will be fixed to observe and acknowledge everything that passes within the field of its awareness during that time. There will be no concern with these conditions that arise and cease. With just this, the citta will unexpectedly eliminate all the accumulated fears and worries and will calm down reaching the base of samādhi without being impeded. The only obstacle that obstructs during the time the breath is about to disappear or when it has disappeared is nothing but this fear of death. After having passed through this obstacle only once with this technique, the fear will vanish and never return to deceive one again the next time. One will come to see clearly the trickery of the kilesas during this time. As soon as one realises that one does not die, as one assumed, one will come to see clearly the deception (mara) that creates the delusion. In the future, when coming into contact with it, one will know how to avoid, remedy and proceed on with ease until arriving at the shore of safety, free from all kinds of dukkha following the example of the Lord Buddha who, in going before, used this dhamma object as his basic means for Enlightenment and the realization of Nibbāna. Bhavaṅga Citta Some of the readers may not understand what the term bhavaṅga citta means. A short discussion will be presented here. The term bhavaṅga, translated the Forest Way, means the essence of existence, which means the home of avijjā for countless ages.6 The phrase ‘The citta falls into bhavaṅga’ means the convergence of avijjā into a single place where it does not function and does not send out any of its attendants to hunt and make acquisitions along the way. The entrances and outlets of avijjā’s attendants are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and the body. The acquisitions of avijjā are the various forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile objects, which are all avijjā’s favourites. The attendants of avijjā are rāga-taṇhā (sexual craving) with the help of saññā, sankhāra, and viññāṇa as the means of fulfilling its various objectives. During the time when the citta falls into bhavaṅga by the power of appanā-samādhi, avijjā also stops functioning. When the citta withdraws, ignorance then continues to function according to its duty, but not as forcefully as it did before it was crippled by samādhi-bhāvanā. Therefore, samādhi-bhāvanā is a very good device for weakening avijjā’s strength and allowing insight (paññā) to successively eradicate and clear up all the delusion out of the Heart. One will come to know the ‘bhavaṅga citta’ from doing bhāvanā during the time when the citta converges into calmness (appanā-samādhi). When it withdraws, it is called ‘The citta withdraws from bhavaṅga’, and it becomes involved with all kinds of affairs that avijjā directs it to without ever coming to an end. Therefore, there is no other work so infinitely long and complicated – to the point where no logic can dictate – as the work of avijjā which spreads everywhere all over saṁsāra. It is boldly committed to its work of affection, aversion, hatred, and anger. This is the routine work of avijjā that it never has a distaste for. It is satisfied with affection, aversion, hatred, and anger, even if it brings dukkha and hardship on the servant. Avijjā will not allow him to step back: it will incite him to have affection, aversion, hatred, and anger, until the bearer becomes destroyed and ruined by these things. But still avijjā will have no sympathy or pity. It will force the servant to continue on until he is ruined along with it. These are the dhammas of all the avijjās that are in the Hearts of sentient beings. The work directed by avijjā is never ending, unlike other kinds of work. It will expand infinitely and is not limited by time. Those who have dhammas such as peace and discernment (samādhi and paññā) within their Hearts can see the harmfulness of the delusion (avijjā) that endlessly directs them to work. Therefore, when the citta converges into bhavaṅga (the time when avijjā momentarily rests) there arises happiness and comfort, free of worries, for a time. During this time, when the citta takes a rest from work, one can see the harmfulness in one’s revolving, with Ignorance directing behind the curtain. This revolving is very far outside the norm when compared to bhavaṅga. When the Heart has just recently withdrawn, it still remains peaceful and tranquil due to the nourishing power of samādhi. The more the citta is calmed by samādhi, the more one will come to see the harmfulness in the confusion caused by avijjā. For this reason, the practitioner usually gets addicted to samādhi without having any interest in how to correct it, because this level of calm and peacefulness can be addictive. In the end, the citta comes to see the harmfulness of the confusion caused by ignorance, but it unavoidably becomes addicted to samādhi, which is the vacation home away from avijjā, because there appears to be no better way out. It is at this point, when he tries to eradicate and uproot avijjā, that the practitioner will come to see the usefulness of discerning mindfulness (sati-paññā), because aside from sati-paññā there are no other means that are capable of destroying it. When will the Bhavaṅga Citta Completely Vanish? Bhavaṅga citta will never completely vanish by itself because it has been for a very long time the source for the building up of lives, existences, defilements, and craving. And the path of avijjā is this very building up of lives and existences in the Hearts of sentient beings. It does so at all times, without ever being lazy or contented. The practitioner who still values and preserves the bhavaṅga citta – who is attached to the base of samādhi and does not seek the way of paññā to investigate and observe avijjā (which is like an alluring temptress within the bhavaṅga citta) – is like a servant of lives and existences and will continue to be so without ever coming to freedom. If one desires deliverance, one must build up discerning mindfulness within the Heart until it becomes very proficient and capable of destroying bhavaṅga citta, which is the essence of lives and existences. Bhavaṅga will then naturally dissolve and disappear. To know bhavaṅga citta, one must possess full concentration (appanā-samādhi) and very sharp discernment (sati-paññā) on the level of maha-sati and maha-paññā (automatic mindfulness and discernment). Other than that, it is impossible to know it. Even if one has studied the whole Tipiṭaka one cannot escape from ‘packing one’s belly’ full of delusional knowledge. The most efficient tool for this work is none other than maha-sati and maha-paññā. This is the tool that destroys bhavaṅga citta, bhavaṅga avijjā (embedded ignorance). A forest bhikkhu writes according to the forest’s way. Please don’t be concerned or take it too seriously because it is presented without any examples or patterns to certify it. The practice is done in the forest; so is the learning. So the dhammas is also Forest Dhamma. Consequently, everything is of the way of the forest with not a single term of the scripture hidden within it. How to Come Out of Samādhi-Bhāvanā When coming out of samādhi-bhāvanā, one should do so with mindfulness (sati) supporting the Heart. If the citta still remains calm within bhavaṅga (appanā-samādhi), it is not one’s place to force it to withdraw and come out of bhāvanā. One should not disturb it, even if it is time to go to work or on alms-round. Let it stay converged in calmness until it comes out on its own. The external works, even if they are necessary, should be put aside during this time because the work of the bhavaṅga citta is much more important – to the point where they are incomparable. If it is forced to withdraw when it is not adept in entering and withdrawing it can be detrimental to the citta in the future. The citta will not converge into calm again as it did before. One will then be disappointed. This happens all the time in the circle of practice. One should be very cautious to not allow any repetition of the same mistakes. In coming out, if the citta is still converged in calmness, then one must wait until after the citta has withdrawn or only come out when one feels tired. One should come out fully self- possessed, with sati, and not haphazardly, nor lacking sati- sampajañña, the dhamma that goes together with every movement. Before coming out, one should reflect on the method through which one gained results in practising bhāvanā. How did one establish sati and observe the citta? What was the parikamma object? How was it recited to make the citta converge easily - quickly or slowly? How did one investigate? What was the technique that gave thoroughness? After having reflected and noted both the causes and results that one had experienced at every interval, one can then come out of samādhi-bhāvanā. The reason for reflecting in this manner is to make it easy to correctly repeat the previous way of practice that one will take up in the future. Especially for those ordained who are already practitioners, even after coming out of samādhi, they should not let go of the sati that used to support the citta. In the various postures of standing, walking, sitting, and lying down, and in fulfilling one’s duty or in doing any kind of work, sati should be either directing the parikamma object or one should be fully established in clear knowing (sati-sampajañña), not letting the Heart sway with the various kinds of emotions (ārammaṇa), following the habits of the mind that is used to these things. The behaviour by way of body and speech will not be incorrect when there is sati directing the parikamma object or when sati is there with oneself. One’s behavior will also be pleasing to the eyes and ears of others. Regardless of one’s character, quick or slow, it will always be within the bounds of beauty, pleasing both to the eyes and ears. The citta will converge into calm very quickly during the practice of bhāvanā due to sati, the device that directs and controls the Heart, and the work that one is doing. If it is likened to an animal, it is under one’s control, and can easily be put to work at any time. Damage cannot easily arise like if it were allowed to go following its own fate (yathā-kamma). Even if it does not converge into calm in accordance with one’s wish, it will not create hardship and injury for oneself. The ability to take care of the heart at nearly every moment, or constantly, will effectively nourish sati and the citta to be proficient in the practice of samādhi and in other kinds of work. Whatever type of work, when it is done with intention, having mindfulness attending to the work in hand, it is usually pleasing to the eyes and not incorrect. One will not be absentminded and will be within one’s status, not lowering one’s position and one’s work to become something undesirable. Therefore, it is correctly said that “sati (mindfulness) is desirable in every circumstance.” This is very appropriate and cannot be contradicted. One will come to see the necessity of mindfulness during the practice of samādhi-bhāvanā and during the investigation of the different Dhamma aspects. Mindfulness must follow this work all the time in order to know thoroughly, in accordance with one’s established purpose, the nature of the citta and dhamma. Especially for one who possesses the higher state of citta and dhamma, mindfulness remains the dhamma that is very necessary at every interval and cannot be done without. The capability and sharpness of paññā depends on sati as the device to support and aid its development. Even if discernment (paññā) has already entered into the level of maha-paññā (automatic discernment), it correspondingly indicates that mindfulness (sati) must also have entered into the level of maha-sati (automatic mindfulness). This is because sati is the dhamma that directs all the work. The manner of people who sometimes lack mindfulness is not pleasing to the eyes at all. If it were continually allowed to be lacking, without giving it any concern, then it must definitely be about time for one to be taken away! Without a doubt! For this reason, the rate of attainment for any practitioner depends significantly on their discernment (sati-paññā); even if their characters and tendencies differ. For one who concentrates on the development of mindfulness, peace (samādhi) will appear very quickly. Their ability to think and investigate in the way of insight (paññā) will be very much enhanced. We can see from the experience of writing: one day when mindfulness is absent due to many confusing thoughts, that day the writing becomes haphazard with many errors. But on another day, when the Heart is not confused having sati with oneself, the writing runs correctly without many errors. Those who are foremost in the ways of the citta and dhamma usually see the importance of sati. They always try to constantly establish mindfulness, without ever letting it disappear. Especially during the practice of samādhi-bhāvanā and in the investigation of the various aspects of Dhamma, mindfulness and reason (sati and paññā) must all the time blend together without allowing any discontinuity. The one who practises in this manner possesses jāgara dhamma – the awakening device. This self-protective device is very firm and stable. Then it is not easy for the enemy to approach. No danger can come to the Heart. This is different from those without sati, for they accumulate dukkha: however much there is, they will accept it all. The Venerable Ācariya Mun stressed heavily the development of mindfulness – regardless of posture, exertion, or whether one was a new or an old student. He relentlessly taught about sati along with whatever other instruction was appropriate for the mind and nature of the student. He said that he had learned to see the dangers resulting from the lack of sati, and the benefits of sati, from the beginning stages of exertion right up to the end. Both of them are significant and cannot be held in contempt. He assured the practitioners that regardless of sex or age, if they constantly gave interest to mindfulness without allowing any gap or discontinuity in the various postures, they shall come to realize and experience samādhi, magga, phala, and Nibbāna. From the beginning stages of training, all that is needed is to have mindfulness as the support. One’s awareness and one’s understanding of the good and bad things that arise within oneself and others should be known corresponding to the ability in maintaining sati with oneself, not allowing any absentmindedness to appear which gives room for the kilesas to steal one’s precious possession. There is definitely hope then. The case of most of those practitioners of Dhamma who become ‘blamers of Dhamma’, claiming that they cannot experience the results from practice, is due to the kilesa of absentmindedness, which secretly took over from sati, the director, and then, secretly, performed that duty with the citta – both during the practice of exertion and during the normal time. This causes disappointment. But instead of blaming oneself for having been fooled by the defilements, one blames Dhamma for not giving the appropriate results. Both ways, one loses. This is due to a lack of interest in observing the kilesas that caused the absentmindedness, not seeing them as damaging to oneself or to one’s exertion. This kilesa therefore gains the opportunity to manifest itself within the practitioner without him knowing that he is constantly being led around by it. If one is an observer, one will be able to see within less than a minute’s time. From the time one begins exerting in the vari- ous positions (with the establishing of mindfulness in doing the practice), one will come to see the establishing of sati and the absence of sati performing a battle right in front of oneself. And not long afterwards, the absentmindedness, which is the kilesa which watches and waits, will be the victor and will drag away the mind and disappear with it. From that minute onwards, all that remains is the body of the practitioner emptily exerting without sati. If one is walking caṅkama, it is just the appearance of walking, and the same with sitting and standing. One is just like a robot or a doll. This is not exertion in the true sense of the word, because mindfulness, the essence of exertion and that which provides the results, has been stolen by the kilesa of absentmindedness. This is the way that delusion destroys the exertion of the practitioner and it destroys it right in front of one’s eyes by putting one to sleep during the time of exertion. If one really wants to know how capable each type of kilesa really is, it is possible to know at every moment. Even from the beginning of exertion it can be seen very quickly. But usually, in most cases, there is not a desire to know. There is more desire to know about the results (samādhi, magga, phala, and Nibbāna) without wanting to know how these dhammas may be made to appear. What – other than the important, pioneering device of discernment (sati-paññā) – can do so? Otherwise the absentmindedness, which is constantly and carelessly ignored, destroys all the dhammas that one desires.

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