Day 2: 18th October, 2002 (Eighteen Days In Solitude-- Instructional Dhamma Talks in Retreat)


revised on 2020-02-29


We’ll continue to do the practice of stabilizing sati. The time reserve for the practice of satipaṭṭhāna is seven days. The work of sati is jhāna practice and not of knowledge. (Sīla, samādhi and paññā are included in the whole Satipaṭṭhāna practice. Therefore, the Mahasi system is right. At first, it will develop samādhi with right effort and sati to note every phenomenon arising. With strong samādhi and discerning anicca, it moves first from the coarser objects into refined objects, i.e., from kaya, vedanā, citta to dhamma respectively. Mogok’s Sayadaw’s talk also supported to Mahasi system. Here, the Venerable only used one object; i.e., the breath to contemplate that was mentioned as jhāna practice.)

There’re five stages of the practice in strengthening sati.

The first stage is applied thought (vitakka-application of thought on the object). It has also other meanings; thinking and planning in various ways. Here is not thinking and planning. Pull back the running mind on to the meditation object. The object is at the tip of the nose or the upper lip. Pulling back the distracted mind on to the object again and again is vitakka. (A western monk translated vitakka and vicāra as connecting and sustaining. It was clearer and meaningful than applied and sustained thoughts.)

Yesterday by observing the yogis and found out that their experiences in the practice are quite different. Some had practiced for many times in other centres. Now, at here their postures are quite stable, calm and mature in faculties. Even some are in the stage of one-pointedness (ekaggatā). These yogis can be regarded as at the level of high knowledge.

For the second group, they are new yogis and practice only now. Here even two separated groups, some of them have zeal and their postures are calm and stable. It’s with interest and seriousness. Some are not mature and stable. They are not taking it in seriousness. Some of them had practiced before (may be at his centre). These people must take more care in their practice. Even they had practiced before but no realization. Before, I had not observed them. Now, they are near me and observing them. Even they had practiced it before; what are the weak points of not realization? I have interest and done the observation.

What I found out are:

  1. They are not in accordance with the yogi posture. Their sitting postures are wrong.
  2. Another point is, in the way of making the mind calming down shouldn’t move the body. With the body calm, and the mind also is. You have to hold it without moving if you want to calm down the water in the glass. And then the sediments inside will settle down. If the body is moving, the mind can never calm down. For this problem there are two points: it's without the right posture and the mind has distractions that it’s moving.

In the way of calming the mind, these are the dhammas destroying Samādhi. The Buddha said that these were the hindrances (nīvaraṇas) which preventing the path and fruition knowledges (magga and phala).

What are these dhamma?

  1. The hindrance of sensuality or sensual desire – kāmacchanda-nīvaraṇa; the mind follows after sensual objects. Hearing a sound, the mind moves towards the sound. Seeing a form and moving towards the forms, to the smell, etc. Here it’s important to know the significance of Mogok vipassanā teaching. Before I only allowed people to the retreats who had been listened to Mogok Sayadaw’s talks.

(He gave talks on Khandha Paṭiccasamuppāda according to the way of Mogok Sayadaw around Burma, or even may be at his centre. It seemed to be even using Sayadaw’s talks for the yogis in the retreat. Here I want to emphasize the power of Mogok Sayadaw’s talk. Anyone who listens to these talks very often has much benefit in dhamma knowledge. In daily life or in practice, it’s very useful for Seeing Dhamma in profound ways. A well-known Mahasi meditation teacher also used Mogok Sayadaw’s talks in his teaching. It is very unusual.)

Here at this place no preparation for this and allowing people who wanted to practice. Usually only allow people who have been taken the lectures on paṭiccasamuppāda. So, I take it as you all understand paṭiccasamuppāda.

There are two paṭiccasamuppādas: book knowledge and khandha knowledge. If I have to talk on khandha paṭiccasamuppāda for understanding; for example, the eyes see a physical form. If you see something is a mistake. You can’t contemplate what I see. Must contemplate as seeing consciousness arises and should not follow with the seeing object.

Seeing consciousness arises is the present khandha arising; not only the seeing consciousness arises. With it, pleasure on the seeing is feeling aggregate (vedanākkhandha). Wanting it is the aggregate of mental formation (saṅkhārakkhandha). Noticing of them is the aggregate of perception (saññakkhandha). The contact (phassa) of sense object and sense door are form aggregate (rūpakkhandha). The five khandhas arise together.

Someone who want to understand Dependent Arising shouldn’t think in an ordinary way. Think it as a khandha arises if mosquito bites. If not feeling arises and become vedanā paccaya taṇhā feeling conditions craving. And it becomes the desirous mind.

This taṇhā creates action (kamma). Kamma gives the result of next life, rebirth khandha. It becomes woeful birth (apāyajāti). At eating, touching and knowing mind arise. If no contemplation and the feeling of the tasting mind arises, and it becomes the feeling aggregate. Continue to; this food is very good. From feeling and craving arise. Taṇhā arises by eating food. From taṇhā and action arises. With eating like this, one will go to the plane of misery (apāyas).

How much profundity of the meaning is in the practice? Most people are thinking that only doing unwholesome actions has fallen into the planes of misery.

During the eating Dependent Arising (D.A) processes are continuing. For this Dependent Arising machine not in turning, and must be mindful on the objects of eating. Don’t let it happen as very good if taste arises on the tongue; only knowing them as hot, sour, bitter taste, etc. With mindfulness and not connect to feeling.

Now, I’ll talk about how to do it. For example, during eating, you’re eating without sati. You know this very well. How do you eat without sati? You take the food with your hand and put it into the mouth. And then chew the food, after that swallow it. The hand takes another lump only after swallow.

Here, I am talking about the eating process happens one after another. In reality, we’re chewing the food and the hand going to take another one. How can we have sati at the same time in doing two jobs? We have been eaten foods for quite a long time now. How many lumps of food will make us full? We have eaten it for our whole life. Even up to this age and don’t know how much of it is enough. Is it not clear that we’re alive with not knowing-avijjā?

How many times we’re chewing each lump of food? And when do we swallow the food? Therefore, we are eating with avijjā. After avijjā, taṇhā will arise. Doing things without mindfulness that humans are in suffering. Living with ignorance, craving (taṇhā) arises. You must do with sati if you want to abandon taṇhā. Doing things without sati is not difficult because you’re used to it. (This point is very important for contemplation).

Eating with sati seems to be tiresome because of doing with effort. Know the in and out breaths is a part of the practice. Now, I’ll talk about eating. You must try to eat with sati. You put a lump of food into the mouth and chewing it. Follow with the counting as how many times you’re chewing. You can count with numbers as 1, 2, 3, etc.

For example, after 25 times of chewing and you swallow it. Without wanting to swallow and you don’t swallow it. Chewing with sati and it becomes loathsome (It seems to be a burden and dukkha; can’t enjoy the pleasure). It arises in the mind eye. Wanting to enjoy the taste doesn’t arise. Doing with sati, you'll know khandha dukkha. You must do it with one after another. During the chewing, don’t take another food again.

(Just concentrate on the chewing process with sati. If someone is looking at you, you also have the composure. Dependent Arising process also does not continue).

People think that practicing of sati is calming the mind. In reality, it purifies the mind. With the purified mind, the insight knowledge will arise. During bathing, contemplate the touching and knowing of the water falling on the head and the body. By using soap on the body with sati and contemplate the touching and the knowing. Yogi should be a person with sati. The hand contacts with the spoon; touching and knowing mind arises. Touching and knowing mind is never end with the contemplation because everything is touching and knowing.

(Webu Sayadaw and Soon Loon Sayadaw were very well known in Burma. Webu Sayadaw’s main instruction was observing the touching and knowing of the sensations of in breath and out breath. Soon Loon Sayadaw himself using the touching and knowing of the physical sensations in his daily activities. So, Sayadaw made a slogan in practice: ‘‘Touching, Knowing, Sati”.)

Another hindrance is ill-will (vyāpādanīvaraṇa). During the practice it also can give a lot of trouble. Contemplate them if they arise, and they will disappear.

The hindrance of sloth and torpor (thinamiddhanīvaraṇa). Some of you are nodding in sitting. You were nodding at six p.m. I came and checked at eight p.m. and you’re still nodding. It’s not the time for sleep yet and why are you nodding? Because your postures are not right. Look at the Buddha image, no slanting of the head and the body not inclining to the side. So, it’s important to have the right postures. With the bending of the body and can’t practice very well.

The hindrances of restlessness and worry (uddhacca and kukkucca nīvaraṇa). The mind in the state of restlessness is uddhacca. If someone is scratching the head, moving the body and bending the fingers; then the yogi is in restlessness. The Buddha at the time of enlightenment made a resolution of not to move. We should imitate him. We must not move the body as we like. Kukkucca is thinking and planning of many things. In Samatha practice you must not think and plan for anything.


revised on 2020-02-29; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=4021&p=35452#p35452 (posted on 2018-12-14)


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