September 17, 2012

Notes for Oct. 17 Talk on Determination

Dear Friends,

Here are notes I took in preparing for last Sunday's dharma talk, in the hope they might be useful.

Best wishes,

Ajahn Sumedo: Buddha didn't teach about the mind so we could be scholars of the theory, only to point the right direction for practice. Holding a concept of the mind or even of practice is itself a kind of clinging.

"We keep trying to be mindful, rather than just being aware of the mind. … The important thing in meditation practice is to be constant & resolute in practice, determined [to let go] of everything that arises & passes that we cling to & identify with."

"If you fill your mind with more concepts & opinions, you're just increasing your ability to doubt. … Keep letting go of whatever [is impermanent] – but if it doesn't go, don't force it. Use this practice gently, but with resolution. Meditation is a skilful letting go, deliberately clearing out the mind…"

"When the mind is empty, say 'Who is it that lets go? … A state of uncertainty arises; bring this up, allow it to be…"

This practice = repeatedly investigating the cycle of suffering which arises & passes, without attachment, until we are no longer the victims of this cycle.

Ajahn Chah: Buddha said to cultivate clear knowing; all phenomena arise within this knowing. When "that which knows" sees the cause & end of suffering, we see the mind is not "us" or "ours." And we let go. Our job is to be aware & know the nature of all that arises.

Cultivate clear knowing by ethics, wisdom & practice. Once established, we investigate with determination all experience that arises, and know its - and our - true nature.

This process matures at its own rate, but we never stop putting effort into practice. Progress is not under our control. We need faith that if we do work (not clinging to an idea or goal), results will follow. This = determination.

Trying to force results in practice = pure delusion. We let go of 'goal' or 'progress' & keep doing our part. It's a common craving to not be agitated or distracted, etc. But it's still craving and that means suffering. Recognize that & keep practicing.

When we encounter mood/emotion, we should examine its qualities of anicca, dukkha, and anatta & note the excessive thinking that accompanies it. Spy on it. See if mood/emotion causes joy or suffering, its causes & effects. Ajahn Chah says the Knowing has to teach the mind the nature of what arises until the mind is able to let go of it. "This leads to peace of mind."

Contemplate causes & effects of mental phenomenon until you know this thoroughly & it falls away on its own. Anything that comes up & sticks, investigate. Don't give up till it releases its grip. Keep repeating this process. Buddha taught that you have to know this for yourself in the depths of your heart.

"Practice with unflinching dedication!" If you want to practice Dhamma, then please try not to think too much. If you're meditating & you find yourself trying to force specific results, then it's better to stop. … Take every opportunity to put effort into practice. Whether it's peaceful or not, don't worry… If you do the work, the results (that are right for you) will follow."

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