Insight Meditation Online

Vipassana Meditation Course

Right Understanding

Yesterday I explained briefly the five mental faculties of meditators. Of these five mental faculties the last one, pannya, wisdom, realisation or right understanding is the predominant factor of the five. So you have to practise insight meditation, vipassana meditation in order to rightly understand of mentality and physicality. When you have rightly understood mental and physical processes as they really are you'll be able to do away with mental defilements which are the causes of suffering. That's why you have to develop your mindfulness, which is the cause of deep concentration on which right understanding or insight knowledge is built up.

So to do right understanding, bodily processes and material processes as they really are, you need deep concentration of the mind. To gain deep concentration of the mind you need continuous powerful and diligent mindfulness. To have continuous and constant mindfulness you need strenuous effort in your practise, intensively so that your mindfulness becomes continuous and constant for the whole day.

And to attain the continuity of mindfulness for the whole day you have to not only practise sitting meditation and walking meditation, but also awareness of our daily activities. Because aside from the times for sitting and walking there are times when you are doing your daily activities such as washing or showering, taking meals, drinking, and laundering, and also preparing your bed at bed time. So if you apply this mindfulness only to sitting and working, if you do not apply it to the other general activities of the day, then your mindfulness is not continuous and constant. It doesn't become powerful and sharp and diligent.

Mindfulness becomes continuous, constant and uninterrupted only when you make proper effort and awareness of your daily activities, and it becomes sharp. Only when mindfulness becomes continuous and constant does your mind become well concentrated on any mental or physical object which is observed. That concentration gives rise to right understanding or insight knowledge which penetrates into the true nature of mental and physical phenomena. That's why it's indispensable for a meditator to put a reasonable effort into awareness of daily activities, as much as possible.

To be aware of your general activities of the day you have to slow down all actions and movements, all activities. Then you can be aware of almost all daily activities in more and more detail. Though you do these general activities of the day normally, in a normal pace, you can be aware of them but not in detail. But you can do it generally. General awareness is not so much powerful. It doesn't make your mindfulness continuous and constant, uninterrupted.

So meditators need to have detailed mindfulness of daily activities as much as possible, slowing down actions and movement as much as possible. Only then does mindfulness become continuous and constant and gives rise to deep concentration of the mind which is the cause of right understanding. That is why the Lord Buddha dealt with a separate chapter on awareness of daily activities in his discourse of the four foundations of mindfulness, the Mahasatipatthana sutra.

Without awareness of daily activities you can't concentrate your mind very well or deeply. When concentration's not deep enough there won't arise any insight knowledge or experiencing knowledge which penetrates into the intrinsic nature of mental and physical phenomena. That's why we should try to be aware of more daily activities in more detail day by day.

So when you are successful in noting all these activities of the day in more and more detail, the mindfulness becomes constant and powerful, and concentration becomes deeper and deeper. Then pannya or wisdom or right understanding or insight knowledge becomes penetrating and realises body-mind processes and two levels of understanding. Here those meditators who have obtained deep concentration realise the bodily processes of nama and rupa, mentality and mind, and two levels of understanding.

The first one is understanding of the specific or individual characteristics of mental and physical phenomena. The second one is understanding of general or common characteristics of mental and physical phenomena.

When you have understood the specific characteristics of mental and physical phenomena then you can exterminate the false idea of a person, a being, an I or a you, a self or a soul, which is the seat of all mental defilements and hindrances. Then what are the specific characteristics of mental and physical phenomena; what are the individual characteristics of mental and physical phenomena? As to mental phenomena, when you note rising, falling of the abdomen; or lifting, pushing, dropping of the foot; or bending of the arms, stretching of the arms, then there's a mental process that knows the object, rising, falling movement, lifting, pushing, dropping movement, bending, stretching movement of the arm.

The phenomenon which knows the object is called chitta. Chitta is sometimes translated into consciousness but in other times into mind. Whether it's translated into consciousness or mind its characteristic is cognising the characteristic instead of cognising the object or perceiving the object. So, cognising or perceiving of the object is the individual characteristic of chitta or consciousness or mind. When you note rising, falling, rising, falling; or sitting, touching, sitting, touching; when your mindfulness becomes sharp and concentration becomes deep, then you come to distinguish between the object and the subject. The object is the rising and falling movement; the subject is the mind that notes it or cognises it or knows it or perceives it. You can differentiate between the object physical process and the subject mental process that knows it.

When concentration becomes deeper what you are realising is this dual process of mental and physical phenomena. Then you come to rightly understand that the rising movement is one process, the mind that knows it is the other process. There are two processes which are arising at the same moment. The falling movement is one process; the mind that cognises it is the other process. Then again you come to realise the rising movement hasn't any power to know any object. The same with the falling movement. Falling movement hasn't any ability to know or to perceive any object. But the mind that knows it has the ability of perceiving the object, of cognising the object. In this way you come to differentiate between nama and rupa, mental phenomena and physical phenomena.

Then here you come to know that so-called opposing is composed of physical processes and mental processes. So-called opposing is nothing but natural processes of mental and physical phenomena. When you have rightly understood in this way you don't have in your mind the false idea of opposing being, an I or a you, a self or a soul, because what you are realising is the dual process of mental and physical phenomena.

There, when you come to realise the noting mind is able to perceive the object or cognise the object, rising movement or falling; or lifting movement, pushing movement and dropping movement. But physical process hasn't any ability to perceive or to cognise anything. This understanding is that of specific or individual characteristics of the mind or the consciousness by rightly understanding the mind and its characteristics and also the physical process and its characteristics. Then you have destroyed the idea of a person, a being, an I or a you. That means when distinguishing physical processes from that of mind or mentality you don't identify mental processes, that's noting mind with yourself or your person. Then you have no idea of a person, a being, a self or a soul.

In the same way you do not identify physical processes, that's a rising and falling movement of the abdomen, with yourself or your person. You know separately mental process is one thing, physical process that the mind notes is the other. Neither mental process is a person or being. A physical process is also not a being, a person, a self or a soul. In this way you come to destroy the false idea of a person, a being, a self or a soul. It's called sakkaya-ditthi, atta-ditthi.

Sakkaya-ditthi, atta-ditthi, the false idea of a self, a soul, a person or being is the seat of all mental defilements such as desire, grieving, greed, lust, hatred, anger, ill-will, ignorance, conceit, jealousy, and so on. All these mental defilements arise dependent on the idea of a person, a being, a self or a soul. This false idea of a person, a being, a self or a soul, sakkaya-ditthi, atta-ditthi, is the seat of all mental defilements which are the causes of suffering, dukkha.

When you consider these mental and physical processes theoretically, you can have some knowledge of mental and physical processes which are neither a person nor a being, neither a self nor a soul. So when you are able to watch the rising and falling movement or lifting movement, pushing and dropping movement of the foot, or bending of the arm or stretching of the arm, you are able to know clearly or perceive there's a rising movement of the abdomen and there's a falling movement of the abdomen.

So the mind that knows these objects, when you can differentiate between the rising and falling movement and the mind that knows it you can answer if someone asks you whether the mind that knows is a person or the process of a rising and falling movement, a person or being. That question can be very easily answered by you when you differentiate between the rising and falling movement of the abdomen and the mind that notes it.

Shall I put a question to you about this aspect of Dhamma? Which is a person or a being, a self, the rising or falling movement or the mind that notes it? The rising movement is not a person. Then is the falling movement a person or a self? No. Then is the mind that notes it a person or a self or a soul. No. Then what are they? They are natural processes. The rising movement is a natural process of material phenomena. The falling movement is also a natural process of physical phenomena. The mind that notes, knows it, is a natural process of mental phenomena. All these three are natural processes. No part of them is a person, a being or a self.

Then during your contemplation of the rising and falling movement of the abdomen do you find any person or being, self or soul? No. Then, what's the thing you find? A natural process of mentality and physicality. But before we are able to realise this dual process of mentality and physicality we take the mind for a person, a being, an I or a you. I note, I know. Who knows? Who has the ability of perceiving or knowing the object? A person or a self has the ability of knowing or perceiving an object. Is it right? No. Then what has that ability? The mind has the ability of knowing, cognising the object.

Then is the mind a person, a being? No. But before we are able to differentiate between these two processes of mentality and physicality we take the mind to be a person, a being because we take, I know or you know. It applies to a person, but actually there is no person, no being, no self who knows the object. Only the mind has the ability of knowing or cognising the object.

When we clearly see the two processes of mental and physical phenomena in our practise of insight meditation we don't take mental processes to be a person. We don't take physical processes to be a person because we know that the physical is just the natural process of materiality. Mental process is just the natural process of mentality. Neither of them are a person, a being, an I or a you.

To rightly understand this dual process as just the natural processes of mentality and physicality what we need is deep concentration. Unless your mind is well concentrated on any mental or physical object which is observed, you are unable to realise in this way. So deep concentration of mind is required to right