Eighteen Days in Solitude
Day 9: 25th October, 2002; By Venerable U Ñāṇaransi ; The translator: Ven. Uttamo
Today we continue on the body consciousness to contemplate the impermanence of form (rupa). We come to the stage of what is path and what is not path – maggamaggananadassana. We’re arriving on the path (way) but still can be strayed away from the way as taking what is not the path knowledge as the path knowledge (i.e., Nibbana). [Yogis discern anicca is on the way, only continue to walk forwards. But the 10 insight corruptions come in and mistaken with the path knowledge.] But still not on the straight path yet, and can be strayed away from it. For my duty, I have to help you not to stray away from it. Now we’re starting to see impermanence. Some of you had confusion to what I mentioned yesterday (i.e., on anicca – the rise and fall of phenomena). The Buddha taught to Ven. Meghiya was by seeing anicca and understand the nature of not-self (anatta). In Mogok Sayadaw’s talk, sabbe sankhara anicca – all conditioned phenomena are impermanent. Whatever arising dhamma is by causes. The result dhamma is called Sankhara. These words; anicca, unstable, rise and fall, etc. are the same meanings. The Burmese word for anicca is falling apart, vanishing. So some of you think that this is only anicca. Changing one by one, vibrations, etc. are also anicca. Establish Samadhi for sometimes. Samadhi itself can’t give you the path and fruit (magga/phala), and only vipassana. If you want to drink water and have to use the cup. But you only drink the water. With the cup of Samadhi and you’re taking the water of wisdom. Therefore, establish Samadhi. The most important point is sati. So stick with sati. If the mind becomes calm, and moving the mind from the entrance of the nostrils to the top of the head. It’s like the head light of a torch light pointing at there. That means not moving the mind here and there. [Note: The teacher himself was quite a learned person and had extensive knowledge and a practical man. He himself had experiences with U Ba Khin’s system but also extensively used Mogok Sayadaw’s talks in his teachings. Here I am not presenting a fixed system. People can use whatever methods they like. I am only presenting the process of a practice so that people can correct themselves in their practices without a teacher. Mogok Sayadaw’s talks were also not a fixed system. He used his Abhidhamma and Suttas knowledges with direct experiences to clear the path.]
It’s like the example of a tiger hidden behind a bush and catching its prey. In the same way, the yogis nyan tiger hidden behind the Samadhi bush and catching the khandha prey appears. We’re contemplating form, so that seeing the changes of form elements. It’s not only changing now. It changes all the time. Before we didn’t know how to do it and not seen it. Maybe you can feel the sensations spreading to the whole face or to the whole body. Maybe your laps, waist, chest, etc. are becoming tight and stiff like pressing with a wooden plank. Or the chest is like supporting with an iron bar, or the feet are poking with a stick, etc. (The 4 great elements show their changing nature – viparinama lakkhana, i.e., characteristics of change in many different ways.) These are the nature of earth element arises. This is the impermanence of earth element. Before it was not existing. And now it’s arising. At the place of arising existed a vanished one (the old one disappears and a new one appears at the same place). For you to see this nature I showed you by breaking a stick. After the breaking and the broken stick appears and at the same time the good one disappears. We think that the arising and vanishing are separated. It doesn’t. At the arising place of the broken one, the good one vanishes. If something arises and something vanishes. In the arising nature includes the vanishing nature. Not to contemplate as the arising is before and the vanishing is after. You have to make it clear in your mind. The arising is replacing the old one. When a physical tightness arises and the non-tightness before is not existing anymore. In the beginning of sitting was no pain neutral feeling (upekkha vedana). Later painful feeling arises. it’s dukkha arising. At the time neutral feeling (upekkha vedana) vanishes. With nyan (Burmese Pali word for nana) observes and knows that it’s not there anymore. If something arises and something exists before is not there. Abandoning its nature is called impermanence. So something arises and one thing vanishes. And don’t look for it. This is one kind of impermanence.
Another kind is a dhamma (phenomenon) arises. It has movements and not calm. Like vibrations and bubblings. These are also impermanent, arising and vanishing one by one. It’s too fast that you can’t observe one by one. Within a second forms are arising and vanishing 5,000 billion times and minds are 100,000 billion times. You can’t discern that much. This was the knowledge of a Buddha. Therefore the vibrations are also impermanent. After appearing and arising by movements also impermanence. Happening in this way and something arises at other place of the body also impermanent. The yogi’s mind from here and moves to the new object which is just arising. This is not seeing impermanence yet. For example, knowing as tensions, hot, warm, cold, etc. are not impermanent. So don’t use concepts and will become confusion. Knowing it as khandha arises. If you don’t catch it on and lost your mindfulness (sati). If something arises and something is already gone. Therefore, whatever arises is impermanent, and taking it as anicca. Try to catch on the beginning. As example, a pain becomes bigger and bigger and more painful. These are changing phenomena. So movements and changes are also impermanent. The smaller one disappears and the bigger one appears. If you take it as these are changing from one-thing is eternalism (sassata ditthi) (i.e., similar to a soul changes from one body to another body). It’s one thing (phenomenon) vanishes and another one arises. The smaller one (sensation) has already disappeared. These are khandha arising and khandha vanishing. It arises and vanishes on its own nature that nothing to do with me. You don’t have to go in and feel it. Contemplate it as a stranger (alien-prato). I am talking about the changing of knowledge. These are khandha arising and vanishing. Nothing to do with me and quite a different thing. This is called contemplating with distancing from the objects. Someone’s child has car accident. It’s not relating to you and not feel sorrow. Because the child is a stranger for you. If he/she is your own child and will suffer. Try to get the beginning. Watch and observe how it changes. This is observing and seeing the continuous process you have to follow to the end until it stop. Knowing it as contemplating of impermanence. It arises one by one and follow the changing process to the end. If you are unable to contemplate by distancing from it and ditthi is stuck with you. Following and contemplating the strong unpleasant feeling is like a hunter follows the foot tracks of a prey. The important point is distancing yourself from it and contemplating like a stranger.
One thing have to be careful is not enduring the pain by repeating anicca, annica, etc. This is not knowledge but resistance to the pain. Must not contemplate with the desire of wanting the pain to go away. If the wanting mind for the pain to go away arises and ditthi is with you. Then you’re not contemplating it like a stranger. Even if this wanting mind arises and contemplate its impermanence. Here we’re contemplating form but anyone of the 5 khandhas can arises. If feeling and mind arise also must contemplate them. The main point is the mind of wanting it to vanish and the aversion arises from impatience. Don’t go in and feel it. Have to contemplate them. If nothing arises and go back to the nostrils. Reestablish Samadhi. (It’s like a spider after catching the insect and go back to the centre of the web.) Wanting to breathe in mind and wanting to breathe out mind are impermanent.
Walking meditation is establishing Samadhi. But lifting, stepping, etc. are changing. They are arising and passing away. Going and moving all these are impermanent. Only in the walking meditation is not including the nostrils and the top of the head. Standing and lying down postures are the same as sitting meditation. The important point in walking meditations is catching on with every part of the process.
- Content of "Eighteen Days In Solitude"