10th October 2504 B.E. (1961)
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The Section on the Extinction of Suffering (Dukkha Nirodha)
I will now speak about the cessation of suffering (dukkha-nirodha). The
Buddhist Teaching is able to be a refuge (sarana) for the world because it can
explain the extinction of suffering. This is crucial because it is what we are
aiming for. If it could not teach this then it would be without essence and
basically trivial. However, a method of practice to bring about that extinction
is also needed, though actually following that way remains the task and responsibility
of each individual person.
Even though the Teaching is genuine and true, if the person does not follow the way of practice then he won't be able to achieve the extinction of suffering. Therefore, the task is up to the individual to follow the practice to effect the required results. This practice is directly concerned with the mind. Today, however, I will first explain the result and fruit of that practice: the extinction of suffering. This is the major and essential fruit of the practice enabling one to see the truth of the Teaching of the Lord Buddha.
Will you now please centre your mind and watch its inclining-out towards knowing various affairs. At this present moment it is inclining-out to receive the sound of this Dhamma Teaching. If you are guarding the mind, you should be able to notice its condition. Is it calm and cool? A feeling of calmness and tranquillity indicates that the Dhamma being offered externally and the inner Dhamma of your centred mind are 'niyyanika' --capable of leading the mind out away from suffering. And this present calmness of mind is already a cessation of suffering. It might only be a momentary suppression while the mind is centred in Dhamma yet, even so, realize that when it resides constantly with Dhamma there will be a constant cessation as well.
Now will you focus on that 'inclining-out to know' about external affairs --the affairs of forms being seen, sounds being heard (etc.) and those former sights and sounds (etc.) already known and stored away as issues by the mind (mano). These affairs are either welcomed with 'hankering,' unwelcomed with 'dejection,' or deceptive and delusory. The mind immediately knows agitation and heat, and cannot be calmed down because of that hankering, dejection, and deluded attachment. This heated excitation of the mind is a subtle form of suffering, though you may not be aware of that. Only after experiencing a calm mind with Dhamma will you appreciate such agitation as being one form of suffering. Most people will usually only know, however much or little, about the blatant forms of suffering --sorrow, lamentation, pain, mental distress and despair-- which all grow out of this subtle type of suffering.
Reflecting more carefully on why this should be the case, one finds that it is because the I becomes involved in the myriad affairs. What are these affairs?
Focus on this body: It is composed of the various elements; it is a fathom long and a span wide, and is sitting here now. We have a 'sense' that this body is me and however it exists we accept that as how we exist. Looking at our face in the mirror, we feel that these are 'my features.' Looking at our photograph we think of it as showing 'me'. Not only is there this 'feeling of self' we also wish for this 'myself-in-this-body' to proceed in an agreeable way. Compliments about this body are welcome, but any criticism is certainly not. Even though we know for sure that some particular part is not so good, we are still glad of any flattery that says the opposite --and even though we know it is flattery we still like it. This, then, is another aspect as to how desire becomes mixed in.
Focus back on the mind inclining-out. In truth this experiencing-engaged-with-desire (which I've been talking about) is a condition of that mind going-out to know. It first sees the rupa form --perhaps seeing one's body in a mirror-- and this seeing is consciousness. If one likes it then that is pleasure, or even if one doesn't or is indifferent, it is still all feeling. There is perception, and then mental-formations fashion thoughts about one's body and so that 'sense' and those thoughts of my body (as I explained above) are all contained in nama, as the mind inclines-out to know. This nama is mixed and blended with craving together with grasping and clinging. When it is like this, then all one's experience and thoughts are mixed and permeated with the defilements.
Even though one may feel contentment with one's body, it remains, in truth, rupa while that 'feeling' is still nama. After more careful investigation one finds that any feeling of contentment one has in the body cannot compare to that of the calm mind with Dhamma. Once one has experienced the calm arising from Dhamma, this will become self-evident.
Now there is still another important point to consider: We must continually deceive ourselves about the nature of this rupa-and-nama. Their true nature is really bound up with impermanence (aniccata), suffering (dukkhata) --because they can't remain stable-- and not-self (anattata). All rupa and nama must proceed from a beginning in birth to an end, with continued change in between. This rupa which everyone is so attached to must also have this transformation and change. Thus, we must think up ways to fool ourselves into feeling contentment and satisfaction with this ever changing rupa. For instance, though it is ageing, we manage to see it as not old. If someone then declares to us that it is old we are displeased; while if they say the opposite we are glad--even though it's obvious to all that it truly is old! We like it when they deceive us even as we constantly make sure to fool ourselves too; putting it off and thinking 'not just yet, not just yet, no need to worry about that until later.' When this rupa changes, heading towards its extinction, we must think to hold it back and so a struggle and agitation ensues. Happiness is impossible if our thinking goes against the course of nature and refuses to accept its law.
This all results from craving that gives rise to grasping and clinging. We first seize hold of something as 'myself' and then go on to grasp hold of something else. We grasp and that thing's arising becomes our arising, its changing becomes our changing and its final extinguishing becomes our decline and end. We must therefore constantly spin with the nama-rupa as it is continually arises, changes and ceases. This whirling-around is the heart of suffering and is far from that peace and stillness which is happiness. Then, when the nama-rupa fails to follow the plans we had on first grasping hold of them --and yet we still attempt to hold on to them-- another load of suffering is added: Sorrow, lamentation and all the other forms of suffering that we have already mentioned.
To remedy this situation and end suffering therefore requires a focussing on that 'self' that spins together with the myriad things in their arising and extinguishing. This specifically means the spinning with the nama-rupa, both internally and externally. Focus to see that when 'self' spins with them, there must always be suffering too; and the less it does so, the less suffering it must endure.
To actually reduce this spinning, you must focus on the desire and grasping within yourself. See that: 'This is craving arising'; 'this is grasping and clinging arising.' Realize that, 'a lot of desire means a lot of suffering' and 'less desire and grasping means less suffering.' The complete lack of desire and grasping is the complete absence of suffering, and this is what forms the extinction of suffering (dukkha-nirodha).
However, in the beginning stages of practice it isn't yet possible to give up all desire and grasping. Therefore make sure that you are wise in your selection of what to desire. Don't desire and grasp anything evil; instead just take firm hold of whatever is good and skilful. This alone will extinguish the suffering that arises from doing evil, and one will also receive the happiness that comes from progressing in the ways of virtue. When you have practised and trained yourself to the full limit of goodness, then there is no need to wish for good any more --because one is already there. At this point there is no need to wish for anything anymore --but that is the final and ultimate stage.
At this present stage, you must still want to hold onto goodness which is virtue and moral precepts, onto samadhi and onto wisdom. Use the precepts to extinguish the suffering involved in wrong and unskilful behaviour. Use samadhi to avoid the hindrances when they arise in the mind, so as to extinguish their suffering. Use a trained wisdom as the tool to extinguish the suffering arising from the more subtle agitation, desires and grasping.
Speaking of using wisdom to investigate: Focus it in the rupa-and-nama and penetrate to its natural course of arising and passing away. Then whatever object is encountered will be received by this wisdom that can see through to its arising and passing away, and it will be extinguished when it reaches the mind. However much hankering or dejection one has, however befooling and delusory the object may appear, on reaching the mind all of it will be extinguished by wisdom's insight into the arising and passing away. The object then loses its power and the mind is no longer jolted or upset by it.
Normally however, when objects reach an ordinary person's mind they completely adhere and stick there. When a form is seen or a sound heard, it enters in and sticks fast in the mind. These objects have the power to agitate the mind, but when wisdom with insight into arising and passing away is developed, it can cut them all away. This, then, is the resolution and conclusion. It is the end for suffering, which will never again come in to possess the mind. This is the way of practice to extinguish suffering.
The means and strategy for steadily removing suffering, step by step, is an assiduous and persistent investigation into nama-rupa to see its arising and passing away; and a training to clear the mind so as to see the principles of the natural course of things. The curing of the inner suffering will enhance one's mindfulness and wisdom so that they can try to deal to the best of their ability with the external suffering that one may confront.
When one is skilled in this Buddhist Way of practice, one will be able to contend with any form of suffering. Even if one is surrounded by (external) suffering, one can still deliver and safe-keep the mind. The Buddhist Teaching is a religion which offers a refuge that is really reliable because it teaches a genuine method to extinguish suffering. But to realize this, you will have to study and practise in the way I have explained here. Then you will receive the results in a gradual extinguishing of suffering, according to the level of your practice.
17th October 2504 B.E. (1961)
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The Truth of Extinction United with the Truth of the Path
Please will you now centre your mind within yourself. Focus on the mind
with its mental-object. This means seeing the mind as it thinks about its present
thought, concern or preoccupation. Is your mind calm or not? Whilst listening
to this Dhamma talk, this means seeing the mind as it is thinking upon that
Dhamma which is being heard. The object is now the Dhamma subject that is being
heard and thought about.
The Discourse explains that suffering originates because of craving, and that craving both arises and ceases in delightful-and-pleasurable-things (piyarupa satarupa). As craving ends in the place where it arises it must extinguish there. This doesn't refer to external things, but to these very objects and preoccupations in the mind.
The object as a delightful-and-pleasurable-thing, which the mind is mulling-over, is really form. When we see a person with our eyes, the mind takes over that visual form as a mental image. It appears in the mind as a full and complete image of that person. If, instead of a person, one sees a tree, a mountain or any material thing, then the mind takes it over and it appears complete in the mind as a tree, mountain or whatever. When one hears a sound through the ears, the mind will take that subject as a complete image into the mind. The mind takes in visual forms from the eyes, sounds from the ears (and similarly for all six sense bases) as mental images. Thus, those objects manifest as entities in the mind.
The mind, however, doesn't take everything in as images. A sight or sound or anything that doesn't possess any interesting feature is released to pass on by, while those things that do are taken in as images. This, therefore, is why the Lord Buddha used the term 'delightful and pleasurable thing' for anything which fascinates and enthrals the mind to the point where it is taken in as an image.
Craving and grasping will permeate that image and it can then be considered that the originator (samudaya) or craving is born. If there is no image or delightful-and-pleasurable-thing, then craving has nowhere to arise. Later though, when they are present in the mind, craving can indeed arise. This is why it is said that when it arises it does so in the delightful-and-pleasurable-things --which are exactly these images and objects.
Why does craving arise? Because not-knowing or delusion is watching those mental objects. When ignorance or delusion is watching, images will become evident as either agreeable, disagreeable or enthralling. If one now watches with knowledge instead of delusion, one will see that it is all only a matter of mental-images being taken in and fashioned by the mind into entities. The form which the eye sees is really outside but it appears to fix itself in the mind because an image is fabricated of it. This can be compared with taking a photograph. Even though the real thing is outside, it appears as if it is fixed in the film. In fact, of course, it is just an image caught there and not the real thing at all. A person's mind which fabricates a mental image is similar to that film which catches different forms through a lens arrangement, which itself can be compared to the visual organ.
Now then, focus that knowing to investigate through into another level. There is the mental image, object or form which becomes fixed and fashioned in the mind, and then there is external matter. This might be experienced as a person, tree, mountain or some other thing, and it too is compounded and conditioned. None of these things existed before the elements came together to make them up and, once arisen, they transform, change and finally disperse. Therefore they are just elements combined together, the earth element making up the hard parts, the water element the fluid parts, the fire element the warmth, the wind element the motion, and the space element the empty spaces. This being so, they all must be void --void of entity or self.
Focus that knowing (which is not delusion) to see the mental image dispersed as elements. See it as void and empty of entity and self. When this voidness is evident, then that mental image-- whether agreeable, disagreeable or deluding-- will dissolve. Craving will then have nothing to seize-on and so must subside and abate. This is why, when craving extinguishes, it does so in the delightful-and-pleasurable things.
The important point here is that if the mind takes in and watches that mental image of a delightful-and-pleasurable thing with delusion, craving will immediately spring up. This is the route for the origination of suffering. If however the mind can see it all with knowledge as void of entity or self, then craving will at once subside. This is the route for the extinction of suffering. The crucial thing in extinguishing craving therefore lies with knowing. This training of the mind to develop knowledge is called the Path (magga) -- the way of practice to end suffering.
The knowing mind is also the calm, stilled, mind and so the training in tranquillity is also the Path to end suffering.
The stilled mind is in its natural state and so the training to establish this naturalness can also be called the Path to end suffering.
The importance therefore lies in the training of the mind to know, to be still and calm and to be natural.
The direct way for the mind to know is through knowing about suffering, knowing the cause of suffering, knowing the extinction of suffering and knowing the Path of practice to attain to the extinction of suffering.
Knowing suffering means knowing the delightful-and-pleasurable mental images and objects as merely images, merely delightful and pleasurable things that must all arise and disappear in the mind. It means knowing that even the external substance is also of a nature to arise and pass away, being composed of elements and void of entity or self. Focus to know the truth about these mental-images and about the myriad external things which lead to such images.
This knowing of suffering is therefore not just a looking at any distress that has arisen in one's body or mind. That's not all it is. People experience various degrees of bodily or mental distress because they are unable actually to see suffering and therefore cannot free the mind from suffering. Those who see suffering and know the truth about delightful-and-pleasurable mental images and external things will not engage and mix with those things, and so will not suffer.
Knowing the cause of suffering means carefully focussing on craving and grasping. The condition of liking, disliking or deluded attachment for a mental-image, signifies that craving has sprung up. Learn to recognize and know this craving, and it will then subside.
Focus into this subsiding, this extinction of suffering which one is encountering. In truth, we are not all continuously overwhelmed by suffering. Suffering arises only when craving is born. Even if one does not practise, on some occasions suffering will lessen and subside. This can be seen as an occasional abating of suffering. On coming to practise Dhamma, one extinguishes suffering by focussing on that abatement which stills and cools the mind. The mind will then be characterized by naturalness, stillness, knowingness, and by clarity and brightness. These are the features of the extinction of suffering. You must realize this.
Knowing the way of practice to the extinction of suffering involves a focussing on the causes that lead to that extinction: The mind must be knowing, stilled and natural. One does not simply allow suffering to arise and cease of itself, for that might not only take a long time but also be highly dangerous. One practises to develop that knowing, stillness and naturalness, for these lead to the cessation of suffering by extinguishing craving and grasping.
Craving arises and ceases in the same place, that place being delightful-and-pleasurable-things or mental-images. But to extinguish craving requires the development of that knowingness which is wisdom and not delusion. When that knowing is in constant supervision, objects can no longer come in and bring about the arising of suffering, because craving can no longer be provoked --for one is then fully aware.
18th October 2504 B.E. (1961)