Don't let yourself be content to cycle
through birth, ageing, illness, and death. Be uncomplacent at all times. You shouldn't
have any doubts about birth, because the Buddha has already told us that birth
and death are out-and-out suffering. Don't let yourself wonder if they are flowers
or sweets or any sort of food you can eat to your satisfaction. Actually, they
are nothing but poison. They are things that have deceived us all in our stupidity
to be born and to die in heaps in this world of suffering and stress. If we die
in a state of humanity, there's some hope for us because of the openings for rebirth
we have made for ourselves through the power of our good deeds. But there are
not just a few people out there who are foolish and deluded, and who thus have
no way of knowing what sorts of openings for rebirth their kamma will lead them
So for this reason, see the danger in repeated birth and death that can give no
guarantees as to the state in which you'll take birth and die. If it's a human
state, as we see and are at present, you can breathe easily to some extent, but
there's always the fear that you'll slip away to be reborn as a common animal
for people to kill or beat until you're all battered and bruised. Now that's really
something to worry about. If you die, you die; if you survive, you live and breathe
in fear and trembling, dreading death with every moment. How many animals are
dragged into the slaughter-houses every day? This is something we don't have to
explain in detail. It's simply one example I mention to remind you of the sufferings
of the living beings of the world. And where is there any shelter that can give
a sure sense of security to the heart of each person overseeing his or her heap
As meditators we should calculate the profits and losses, the benefits and drawbacks
that come from the khandhas in each 24 hour period of day and night. The discontent
we feel from being constantly worried: Isn't it caused by the khandhas? What makes
us burdened and worried? We sit, stand, walk, and lie down for the sake of the
khandhas. We eat for the sake of the khandhas. Our every movement is simply for
the sake of the khandhas. If we don't do these things, the khandhas will have
to break apart under the stress of suffering. All we can do is relieve things
a little bit. When they can no longer take it, the khandhas will break apart.
bhara have pancakkhandha:
The five khandhas are really a heavy burden.
Even though the earth, rocks, and mountains may be heavy, they stay to themselves.
They've never weighed us down or oppressed us with difficulties. Only these five
khandhas have burdened and oppressed us with difficulties with their every movement.
Right from the day the khandhas begin to form, we have to be troubled with scurrying
around for their sake. They wield tremendous power, making the entire world bend
under their sway until the day they fall apart. We could say that we are slaves
to the khandhas from the day we're born to the day we die. In short, what it all
comes down to is that the source of all worries, the source of all issues lies
in the khandhas. They are the supreme commanders, making us see things in line
with their wants. This being the case, how can anything wonderful come from them?
Even the khandhas we will take on as a burden in our next birth will be the same
sort of taking-birth-and-dying khandhas, lording it over us and making us suffer
all over again.
So investigate these things until you can see them clearly with discernment. Of
all the countless lifetimes you may have been through over the aeons, take this
present lifetime before you as your evidence in reviewing them all. Those who
aren't complacent will come to know that khandhas in the past and khandhas that
will appear in the future all have the same characteristics as the khandhas that
exist with us in the present. All I ask is that you force your mind to stay in
the frame of the three characteristics (ti-lakkhana), which are present throughout
the body and mind at all times. No matter how wild and resistant the mind may
be, it can't withstand the strength of mindfulness and discernment backed up by
As long as mindfulness and discernment aren't yet agile, you have to force them;
but as soon as they gain enough strength to stand on their own, they'll be like
a fire and its light that always appear together. Once mindfulness and discernment
have been trained to be authoritative, then wherever you are, you're mindful and
discerning. It's not the case that you will always have to force them. They're
like a child: When it's first born, it doesn't have the strength and intelligence
to care for itself, so its parents have to take on the duty of caring for it in
every way until it matures and becomes able to survive on its own. The parents
who used to look after it are then no longer burdened with that duty. The same
holds true with mindfulness and discernment. They gain strength step by step from
being trained without ceasing, without letting them slide. They develop day by
day until they become super-mindfulness and super-discernment at the stage where
they perform their duties automatically. Then every sort of thing that used to
be an enemy of the heart will be slain by super-mindfulness and super-discernment
until nothing remains. All that remains is a heart entirely 'buddho,' 'Dhammo'
will become a marvel at that very same moment through the power of super-mindfulness
So I ask that all of you as meditators make the effort. See the burden of birth,
ageing, illness, and death that lies ahead of you as being at least equal to the
burden of birth, ageing, illness, and death present in living beings and formations
all around you. It may even be more -- who knows how much more? For this reason,
you should make sure that you gain release from it in this lifetime in a way clear
to your own heart. Then wherever you live, you'll be at your ease -- with no need
to bother with any more problems of birth or death anywhere at all -- simply aware
of this heart that is pure.
I ask that you all contemplate this and strive with bravery in the threefold training
of virtue, concentration, and discernment. The goal you set for yourself in that
third sort of person will one day be you. There's no need to doubt this.
That's enough for now, so I'll ask to stop here.
EVERY GRAIN OF SAND
Excerpts from a talk given April 10, 1982
. . . When we investigate, we have
to investigate over and over, time and time again, many, many times until we
understand and are fully sure. The mind will then let go of its own accord.
There's no way we can try to force it to let go as long as we haven't investigated
enough. It's like eating: If we haven't reached the point where we're full,
we're not full. There's no way we can try to make ourselves full with just one
or two spoonfuls. We have to keep on eating, and then when we're full we stop
of our own accord. We've had enough.
The same holds true with investigating. When we reach the stage where we fully
know, we let go of our own accord: all our attachments to the body, feelings,
labels, thought-formations, cognizance, step by step until we finally penetrate
with our discernment into the mind itself -- the genuine revolving wheel, the
revolving mind -- until it is smashed to pieces with nothing left. That's the
point -- that's the point where we end our problems in fighting with defilement.
That's where they end -- and our desire to go to nibbana ends right there as
The desire to go to nibbana is part of the path. It's not a craving. The desire
to gain release from suffering and stress is part of the path. It's not a craving.
Desire has two sorts: desire in the area of the world and desire in the area
of the Dhamma. Desire in the area of the world is craving. Desire in the area
of the Dhamma is part of the path. The desire to gain release from suffering,
to go to nibbana, strengthens the Dhamma within us. Effort is the path. Persistence
is the path. Endurance is the path. Perseverance in every way for the sake of
release is the path. Once we have fully come into our own, the desire will disappear
-- and at that point, who would ask after nibbana?
Once the revolving wheel, the revolving mind has been smashed once and for all,
there is no one among any of those who have smashed that revolving mind from
their hearts who wants to go to nibbana or who asks where nibbana lies. The
word 'nibbana' is simply a name, that's all. Once we have known and seen, once
we have attained the genuine article within ourselves, what is there to question?
This is what it means to develop the mind. We've developed it from the basic
stages to the ultimate stage of development. So. Now, no matter where we live,
we are sufficient unto ourselves. The mind has built a full sufficiency for
itself, so it can be at its ease anywhere at all. If the body is ill -- aching,
feverish, hungry, or thirsty -- we are aware of it simply as an affair of the
body that lies under the laws of inconstancy, stress, and lack of self. It's
bound to keep shifting and changing in line with its nature at all times --
but we're not deluded by it. The khandhas are khandhas. The pure mind is a pure
mind by its nature, with no need to force it to know or to be deluded. Once
it's fully true from every angle, everything is true. We don't praise or criticize
anything at all, because each thing is its own separate reality -- so why is
there any reason to clash? If one side is true and the other isn't, that's when
things clash and fight all the time -- because one side is genuine and the other
side false. But when each has its own separate reality, there's no problem.
Contemplate the mind so as to reach this stage, the stage where each thing has
its own separate reality. Yatha-bhuta-nana-dassana: the knowledge and vision
of things as they are. The mind knows and sees things as they are, within and
without, through and through, and then stays put with purity. If you were to
say that it stays put, it stays put with purity. Whatever it thinks, it simply
thinks. All the khandhas are khandhas pure and simple, without a single defilement
to order their thinking, labeling, and interpreting any more. There are simply
the khandhas pure and simple -- the khandhas without defilements, or in other
words, the khandhas of an arahant, of one who is free from defilement like the
Lord Buddha and all his Noble Disciples. The body is simply a body. Feelings,
labels, thought-formations, and cognizance are each simply passing conditions
that we use until their time is up. When they no longer have the strength to
keep going, we let them go in line with their reality. But as for the utterly
true nature of our purity, there is no problem at all. . . .
. . . . Those who have reached full release from conventional realities of every
sort, you know, don't assume themselves to be more special or worse than anyone
else. For this reason, they don't demean even the tiniest of creatures. They
regard them all as friends in suffering, birth, ageing, illness, and death,
because the Dhamma is something tender and gentle. Any mind in which it is found
is completely gentle and can sympathize with every grain of sand, with living
beings of every sort. There's nothing rigid or unyielding about it. Only the
defilements are rigid and unyielding. Proud. Conceited. Haughty and vain. Once
there's Dhamma, there are none of these things. There's only the unvarying gentleness
and tenderness of mercy and benevolence for the world at all times.