Question # 70
I am trying to develop concentration through practicing mindfulness, using breathing technique that Luangpoo teaches his students. While my mind was calm and I was watching the air that I breathed in and out, I suddenly noticed the air entering my body abnormally. It felt like the air was gushing into my body. Then, with the out breath, I saw my head come out simultaneously with the air. It turned around and faced me. All this experience was so vivid; although my eyes were closed, it was like I was seeing a twin sitting next to me. I continued to explore what my life would become without breath.
I then started feeling that I could not breathe. I thought if I could not breathe, I would surely die. At that moment my face started getting pale and white like a dead person. I realized this was what a dead person must be like. I continued to explore what a dead body would be like after so many days. The picture of a decomposed body showed up in my vision and continued the decomposition process, from rotten body to dry skeleton, then the skeleton crumbled into dust and all got blown away by the wind. There was nothing left at the end. (This must be what is called Anatta, non-self)Later many times while I was practicing breathing meditation, I experienced goose bumps, my hair-end stood up, teary eyes and felt my body blown up until almost exploded and I felt like my skin could breath, the air came out of every pores. After the experiences I continued practicing mindfulness as often as my time and opportunity permitted. However, I could not focus or concentrate as before. My mind kept wander off and scattered all the time, even until now.
May I respectfully ask Luangpoo the followings: Why did these images occur?
How can I continue develop and progress in my mindfulness meditation because after the above experiences my mind cannot focus anymore?
With your kind compassion, please show us the way to liberate ourselves from the cycle of rebirth. My highest reverence at your feet,
You saw an image of yourself while you were practicing breathing meditation.
This may actually be incorrect if you became involved with the images. You might have let go of your focus on breathing and gave attention to the images instead. Eventually you would lose concentration on both breathing and images. Just like the Aesop"s fables of a dog and its reflection. A dog with a piece of meat in his mouth saw his reflection in the water while walking on a bridge. He noticed that the meat in the reflection was bigger than the one in his mouth. So he let go of the one in his mouth and jumped into the water hoping to catch the other one. Consequently, he lost both, the real meat and the reflected piece. And of course what a disappointment that dog must felt.
However, in your case, you knew how to turn a crisis into an opportunity by using your mindfulness and understanding to examine the images until it became an insight to you. The images provided the wisdom to understand the true nature of a living body. If you had continued explore and examine the images, I might have a chance to meet another enlightened person. It"s a pity that your accumulated knowledge was not strong enough to penetrate the truth. Moreover, you still lacked tolerance, effort, truthfulness and determination. That is why you missed the chance to attain the utmost spiritual experiences. However, you must also have accumulated quite a lot of factors for enlightenment. Continue with your effort in practicing Dhamma and the victory will be yours eventually.
As for your question concerning your experiences of euphoria, teary eyes, goose bumps, hair-end stood up, bloated body, happiness, and breathing vanished while practicing breathing meditation, the truth is your breathing did not vanish. What vanishes was your mindfulness, since you were very involved with the images, with euphoria and with the factors that conditioned your mind. They are all considered the illusions of the mind, just like the dog, fancied the reflected meat (Forgive me, I did not intend to put you down but I am giving an example that will help you to clearly see the picture) and let go of the real one.
The technique is whatever happens while you are being mindful of breathing, do not give an interest or pay attention to it. Your duty is solely to examine breathing until your mind is focus and develop into concentration, which is tranquility. If you happened to see an image, use your mindfulness and tranquility that you have developed, examine the nature of the existence of that image and the nature of the disappearance of such image, just like what you did before. At the same time you must bring forth the realization about those factors and conditions unto yourself until you realized the truth of the impermanence, the truth of suffering, the arising, the existing and the end of all bodies whether they are others" or your own. Consequently, you would become contemptuous of all fetters, loosen and disentangled from all pleasures and desires and finally attain the state of emancipation. (I will not explain in detail. You must practice on your own. Then you will realize by yourself the nature of your mind and the elements that occur with it). Too much explanation may in turn become an accumulation of trashes in your mind. Just remember this
A truly knowledgeable person,
Needs no memorization,
Is capable and useful.
A person who is not truly knowledgeable,
Is incapable and dangerous.
With highest reverence to Luangpoo,
Your teaching of "Understand Sammuti (conventional definition of reality), Accept Sammuti, And finally do not cling to Sammuti." How do we apply this principle to our daily life, so that we can achieve happiness as well as highest productivity simultaneously? Under present economics and social situation where high rate of consumption and competition prevail, if we cannot accept Sammuti, how are we going to avoid the Sammuti "society"(Note: this is the interpretation of Sammuti by the person who asked this question) so that there will not be any conflicts as a result". Thank you very much for your kindness.
I do not think you, who are so inquisitive, remember all the words I wrote. That may be the reason you have questions in mind. I will help you clear all your concerns and help you remember and fully understand this verse I wrote more than 10 years ago at the Tiger Nest Cave: It goes like this:
My Dear Child,
You must use Sammuti,
Give benefits to Sammuti,
Receive benefits from Sammuti,
And finally, do not get attached to Sammuti.
I hope you will review and reflect on it. Then you would find the answers to your questions on your own.
Notes from Translator: Sammuti is a Pali term for conventional definition of reality versus Paramattha the absolute true state of nature. For example: what we perceive and call a tree or a house is a Sammuti (a conventional reality). In Paramattha terms (the absolute true state of nature) there is no tree or a house, there is only a compound thing that consists of various elements such as a solid element (earth element), a binding element (fluid element), air element and heat element.
With highest reverence to Luangpoo,
I have listened to Luangpoo"s teaching that: People who, in the past, accumulate good merits together will meet again regardless of where they reside." May I ask for your kindness to explain and advise on how the spiritual bond comes about? How long would it take to develop a spiritual bond? And how do we develop and strengthen each bond?
In order for people to accumulate good merits together, they must first share common view and ideas in life, work and make contribution together, and share friendship with each other. This is considered building bond and sharing good relationships both physically and spiritually.
Your question is how long it would take to develop a bond. It is up to you to decide how much you want to get involved with a particular person. If you only want to get acquainted and be able to carry on a conversation with a person, then it would not take a long time of accumulating good merits together. You just need to work together once, and the mission is considered accomplished. However, if you would like to have a close and a long-term relationship with a person, you have to accumulate good merits together a lot and very often, moreover, both persons must meet the abovementioned three requirements. This is also considered a process of developing and strengthening the bond.
Question # 78
- I developed faith and highest respect for you as a result of listening to your live teaching 3 times and listening to your tapes. One of my friends told me not to be too crazy. She showed contempt at me but in a way it also affected you.
Is it wrong to have faith and a lot of respect for a certain monk?
I am disappointed and have lost respect for this friend. She has been practicing Dhamma for a long time, and made a lot of donations.
Shouldn"t a person who practices Dhamma and achieves a higher knowledge possess good thoughts and good speeches?
- How can I completely overcome my lazy habit?
- How can I forever overcome my anger?
I enjoy sleeping very much. How can I overcome such habit because it becomes an obstacle to my meditation practice? Whenever I sit down to meditate, I felt sleepy, no aching or pain, just sleepy. I also do not like walking meditation. What am I to do? Please kindly show me the answer.
With highest respect.
"You who are tormented by your friend"s words. Didn"t you say it yourself, that the person who causes you anguishes is your friend, not your own conscience inside you? If only you refuse bringing this into your heart, then, end of the story. I think your friend did not intend to force you to listen to her, or force you to believe all the words she said.
As for the question of… how you could overcome anger, laziness and sleepiness, the answer is… develop mindfulness, train your mind to be fully aware of every single breath (detail of the method of practicing mindfulness, you can look up in the book The Path of Buddhahood. It would take up a lot of time and space to explain it here).
Your question of …you felt sleepy every time you meditate. The truth of the matter is you were not meditating. If you have been meditating, you would not have been sleepy. You were sleepy because you were not meditating. You did not know if you were meditating because you lacked mindfulness. I would like to suggest to you if you feel sleepy while sitting, then stand up. While you are standing be mindful and feel your body standing posture, observe the way your body stand, check out and examine if you are standing straight or you are leaning to one side. If you could recognize the way your standing posture is, there, you are being mindful. You would consequently rid yourself of sleepiness.
I would like to ask you what we should do, when living in a society…
We saw a person close to us doing something wrong and bad. Should we tell him to correct his mistake and improve himself? If we do not tell him, it might develop into bad habits and become worse. On the other hand, even if we sit down and reason with him, he might not be able to accept the truth. Consequently, everyone else will be affected by his reaction. What should we do to make him understand and accept the problem?
I must first ask you how influential and powerful this person with wrongdoing, has on you and the people in the community. If the answer is very much so, then you should urgently and diligently try to find the solution to his problem. Although the method may cause you some pain or lose something, but to preserve happiness and stability for the benefits of the whole community, you have to do it.
And if that person does not have much influence and power over you and your community, you still have to help that person; do it with a compassionate heart, with an intention of helping a person who did wrong becomes a person who does right; using an appropriate and sympathetic method following the guideline of:
The qualities of a good man: Knowing the factors,
Knowing the consequences,
Knowing the moderation,
Knowing the proper time,
Knowing the proper place,
Knowing the individuals.
Your act would be considered an act of kindness toward a friend who shares the circle of birth, old age, sickness and death.
May I ask:
1. Is it a sin to raise chickens with the intention of selling eggs?
2. Is it a sin to sell chickens that cannot lay any more eggs for their meat? (I do not kill them, someone else does the killing)
3. Is it a sin to raise animals with the intention of selling them to the slaughterhouse?
Answer # 83
Raising chickens for the purpose of selling eggs is karma, (an action that yield results, the law of cause and effect). It is not serious enough to be considered a sin because lives are not being sold here. Unless the eggs are fertilized and chicks are already formed, then it is a sin, though, a sin that is not as grave as selling live chickens. Selling live animals is a sin, even though you do not kill the animals yourself. But it is still less sinful than killing the animals with your own hands. Raising animals with the intention of selling them to be killed is also a sin.
I would like to tell you that life must go on; nature must exist. Sometimes we human do certain things because we have no other choices and are forced by circumstances to do so. It is important that we weight all the provisions and set priorities. Meanwhile we must always realize that all beings are subjected to the law of karma, whatever conducts and acts we committed, we will surely reap the unavoidable consequences. Whenever you have a chance, do something good for your own sake. Do not exist day-to-day, living off your old savings of merits and not accumulating any new ones. You must keep reminding yourself that there are only two possessions that you could take with you to the life after death; they are merits and sins, good and evil. Knowing this, are you still not afraid? Ask yourself, what do you want to take with you after you leave this life?
Sadhu, sadhu. What a pity!
With highest reverence to Luangpoo
1. How do we advance from samadhi (concentration meditation) to Vipassana (insight meditation)? Someone told me that we could develop Vipassana without having to first attain samadhi, is that true?
2. When we pay homage to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha by three prostrations, I do not understand the differences between
a. Your teaching of the act of Vipassana prostrations that while our forehead touch the ground, be mindful and contemplate on the compassion and the worthiness of the Triple Gems: The Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.
b. Our foreheads do not touch the ground, but we contemplate on the Triple Gems. And
c. We are mindfulness of the body alone without contemplate on the Triple Gems.
3. Which is mindfulness of bodily movements?
4. Which is Samadhi (concentration meditation) and which is Vipassana (insight meditation)?
Thank you very much for your kind compassion.
The way one advance from samadhi (concentration meditation) to Vipassana (insight meditation) is:
When one practice samadhi (concentration meditation) until his mind is calm and achieves a Kanika Samadhi (momentary concentration) or an Upacara Samadhi (beginning concentration), he then uses the concentration he developed, which is also accompanied by a full awareness which is mindfulness to examine each natural phenomenon that occurs at each present moment both inside his body and outside his body. The present mindfulness sees the true nature of reality of each Sabhava Dhamma (true state of natural phenomena) as well as recognizes with wisdom that all of this is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and has no real self.
Regarding develop Vipassana without having to first attain samadhi. From my own experiences in practicing meditation, it can be done. It is done by developing complete mindfulness of all acts, of all speeches and of all thoughts, and recognizes with wisdom the true nature of the reality of all the sensory and mental perceptions. Cultivate mindfulness until all past accumulated wisdom develop into a Pannavimutti (penetrate wisdom).
As for the method of prostration I taught, while prostrating we reminisce the worthiness of the recipient; we conduct the act with modesty, devotion and deep appreciation for their kindness. This is considered the act of worship from the body and from the spirit. It is a truthful act, the act that all Dhamma students should possess. Whatever a person with Dhamma thinks, he acts accordingly; whatever he acts, he thinks accordingly. He acts, speaks and thinks all with the same manner.
This act of prostration can be categorized as both mindfulness of the major body postures and mindfulness of the bodily movements. Realization of the sitting body is a mindfulness of the body posture. Realization of the acts of lifting arms and of body bowing down is a mindfulness of bodily movements. During the act of prostration, your serene mind is considered a Samadhi (concentrate meditation), and your contemplating on the worthiness of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha is considered a Vipassana (insight meditation) because it is a contemplation using knowledge and understanding.
With highest respect to Luangpoo, I have a few questions that I would like to request for your kind answers.
- In developing Vipassana (Insight Meditation), do we have to develop Samadhi (Concentration Meditation) first?
- Many times in life, we encountered many memorable incidents and learned many lessons from them, for example: when we lost something that we really loved, we lost that thing only one time. But because we are so attached to it, we kept thinking about the lost over and over again. In our mind, it felt like we lost that loved one over again every time we think about it. The lesson is if we do not want to feel the lost more than what it actually is, we should stop thinking about it, never again. My question is can this kind of lesson or realization be considered as a Vipassana (Insight Meditation)? Or how can we develop this kind of realization into a Vipassana?
In developing Vipassana (Insight Meditation), it is not necessary that one has to always develop Samadhi (Concentration Meditation) first. For example, you as well as all people have at least once met someone or possessed something that you love, and then lost or were separated from them. We all passed through many happy times, sad times, fortunate times, and unfortunate times in life. These incidents and occurances are the truth of the reality that we can mindfully explore, examine and realize that they were all in fact only Matter and Mind, there was no real self to cling to or hold on to. These incidents of Matter and Mind arise, exist momentarily and then vanish. They are all impermanent, moreover, they are the factors that create turmoil, confusion, chaos, and upheaval to the mind. Once you realize these truths, your mind becomes dispassionate, your concentration arises. Use your mindfulness (Satti) and your concentration (Samadhi) to guard your mind from reacting to any incidents. You should understand that it is the duty of mindfulness (Satti) to be fully and clearly aware of any incidents that should occur. When you are fully aware of the incidents, but with no control over them, it is the duty of Samadhi (concentration) to keep you calm and get you ready for them. However, if you realize that the event is going to happen, it is the duty of Panna (wisdom) to find a way to prevent it from happening, whether successfully or not. If you can prevent the incident, then the wisdom is the Pannavimutti. If you cannot prevent the incident, then the wisdom is the Sahachattipanna (The wisdom that you have from accumulations in the past).
All of these are considered Vipassana (Insight Meditation).
With highest respect for Luangpoo,
Would you kindly explain:
1. The meaning of "balancing the faculties (Indriyas)"?
2. Balancing the faculties to what? And
3. How can we balance the faculties?
This is the answer to you, who are so inquisitive. To begin with, let"s understand the meaning of Indriyas (the faculties). There are two interpretations of the word Indriyas.
The first one is the elements for Dhamma practice (the control faculties).
There are 5 Indriyas (the control faculties) in this interpretation:
Confidence, Effort, Mindfulness,
Concentration and Wisdom.
What it means by balancing the faculties is:
Balancing the development of confidence to the development of wisdom,
Balancing the development of effort to the development of concentration.
Mindfulness is the faculties" leader in charge.
In the second interpretations there are 6 Indriyas (sense faculties). These 6 Indriyas exist as parts of our body, they are:
The eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind.
Balancing the faculties means:
Through seeing, through hearing, through smelling, through tasting, through touching and through perception, one must develop the knowledge equally that all that was sensed and perceived is impermanent, once arises, exists momentarily, then vanishes.
The above explanation of balancing Indriyas (faculties) in both interpretations is the answer to your question 1 and 2.
The answer to your question of how to balance the faculties (Indriyas) is:
Earnestly cultivate, increase and augment mindfulness
By organizing your physical being,
Until it becomes one with your mental process;
Conduct every things and any thing in life?
With complete awareness.
What are we living for?
How should we lead our lives?
What is the true purpose of living?
What is the fact of life?
After reading your question, I"d like to tell you, "Don"t think too much and also take care of your health." At the same time, I"d like to commend you; for you are beginning to understand more about life by asking question about it. The reason I said this is because "Life is a process of asking questions and finding the answers." It is good that you actually ask questions about life. Although you still cannot find the answers on your own, this is not considered bad at all. Just ask questions and one day you will find the answer on your own. And that will be considered a truthful and suitable answer for you.
But if you want me to help answer your question now, I would say… We live to "DIE".
However, before we die we should release our life, our spirit from all bondage, attachments and fetters of the world. Meanwhile, we should lead our lives with virtue, beneficial and without mistakes. But if we should make some mistakes, make it as little as possible. Always realize that these are important duties in life. Remember:
There is life. There is energy.
Using energy to create benefits.
There is no life. There is no energy,
But that is not the end of benefits.
And please also understand that:
Ultimately everything that was mentioned is just Sammuti.
You must use Sammuti,
Give benefits to Sammuti,
Receive benefits from Sammuti,
And finally, do not get attached to Sammuti.
All of these are the answer to your questions about life.
Notes from Translator: Sammuti is a Pali term for conventional definition of reality versus Paramattha, the absolute true state of nature. For example: what we perceive and call a tree or a house is a Sammuti (a conventional reality). In Paramattha terms (the absolute true state of nature) there is no tree or a house, there is only a compound thing that consists of various elements such as a solid element (earth element), a binding element (fluid element), air element and heat element.
While practice sitting meditation, is it good not having any vision?
I need to ask you back whether your purpose of practice sitting meditation is to have a vision, or to attain tranquility, wisdom, awareness, and bliss. If you meditate for the attainment of tranquility, wisdom, awareness, and bliss, then it is not necessary that you should have any vision.
Would all beings receive my sharing of merits if I sit and meditation for 2-3 minutes then perform the dedication of merits?
How should I answer your question? You did not aim your dedication of merits at me!!!
Let"s say: Whether you are sitting or not, try to really focus your mind on sharing your merits to all beings, and do it everyday. At the least, this is one way to form friendships with all beings. Your heart, your face, the reflection from your eyes will be bright and clear. You will be loved by all deities, human and all animals.
How should a monk conduct himself and play a role in a present society that is facing an ethical crisis?
Try to rely on yourself as much as possible, as well as being an honest and truthful refuge for others. You must live a life that even you, yourself can confidently, unquestionably, and truthfully prostrate and venerate. Do not live a life waiting for others to worship you.
With highest respect to Luangpoo
I would like to know if it is against the Buddhist rules and regulations guideline for a monk to plant rice or grow vegetable gardening?
I"d like to tell you that according to the Dhamma Vinaya (the Buddhist doctrine and discipline), people enter monkhood because they want to liberate themselves from sufferings. If they still go around planting rice and vegetable, it would be very difficult for them to liberate themselves from all sufferings. Because it is still responsibilities, ties and obligations, which in fact is a craving process in itself. However, if they do it with pure intention, out of compassion, and intend to distribute the crops as Dana (donations) hoping to help out the poor and needy people, then it is considered a practice of Dana Parami of Bodhisattvas (the perfect act of giving is one of the accumulation of meritorious acts, stages of spiritual perfection achieved by a Bodhisattva on this path to Buddhahood). It does not seem like a wrongdoing because good deeds and merits have the freedom to be accumulated with any spiritual perfection.
With reverence to Luangpoo
I would like to know …
If there is any method or which is the Dhamma teaching that eradicate conceit, pride, arrogance, vanity and quick temper?
Just be humble, listen and accept with respect to other people"s reasons and explanations. Also, cultivate love and kindness toward all beings; with compassionate heart, wish all beings be happy and be free from sufferings.