Suffering because of Association and Separation
Firstly, will you all please centre your mind within yourself. Focus into
nama-rupa: rupa being this living body with its various functioning senses,
while nama is the condition of the mind --which also depends on rupa-- as it
inclines out to know sights and sounds (etc.).
See the birth of this nama-rupa, its end or death and in between its constant changing which is ageing. See this whole sequence in the present moment and the inevitable condition (dhammata) of nama-rupa will manifest. This is the Truth of Suffering, the true state of 'ordinary suffering' and is not something to be afraid of. Any fear and aversion or, going to the opposite extreme, any enjoyment can only arise because one has not yet realized its true nature.
After seeing and understanding the 'ordinary suffering' we turn to focus on the mind's inclining-out to receive and process suffering. We can then see that this very mind is what contrives the arising of mental suffering from bodily pain, and mental distress from various external affairs. If the mind did not receive and process, then suffering could not arise in its various manifestations, as I have explained previously.
These various properties of mind-contrived suffering can be reduced to two: association with all things and people which are disliked and unwelcome and, secondly, separation from all those things and people which are loved.
This association and separation are also 'normal and inevitable' and become suffering because of the mind. The storing away of appreciative wishes and fondness in the mind can be classified as hankering, while any holding to disfavour and displeasure is dejection. In short, one can say that this 'disliking-and-liking' is usually submerged deeply in the mind. It is not until one encounters something or someone that they will display themselves. When this happens and dislike emerges --as when one sees a form, hears a sound or even just thinks of some such disagreeable sight or sound --then it is termed coming into association with unwelcome things. One sees or hears something about some disagreeable person and such association leads to the arising of suffering.
Contrariwise, being separated from something or someone liked also leads to suffering. This suffering is sometimes characterized by sorrow or lamentation, by bodily pain which also distresses the mind, by grief or by despair. Therefore, these can all be reduced to just two causes: Association with any person or thing which one dislikes and separation from that which one likes.
In truth though, this disliking-or-liking does not originate from anyone or anything but from our own mind which has stored it away. It is therefore this mind with its likes and dislikes that contrives the various forms of suffering. As this suffering is painful feeling it is part of nama and there is also therefore perception of suffering (dukkha-sannya), and mental-formations of suffering (dukkha-sankhara). Just as someone lights a fire and constantly adds fuel to prevent its going out, so our own mind starts up suffering and contrives to maintain it there in the mind. On coming to see the outward-inclining mind as it processes suffering --at the same time seeing the roots of liking and aversion buried there-- one realizes, from close in, these two causes. One's discernment into the suffering of the mind has thus come to quite a profound level.
One may look at the external or the internal. Here the external means being aware of the association and separation in one's nama-rupa. Think back as far as your memory goes and examine your experience in terms of this. Throughout your life, from the child's body growing into an adult's and then on into this present stage, you can see the continuing association and separation from the physical body. The childhood period is in association with one's being a child. With growth and maturity, one becomes separated from childhood by association with being adult. As life's stages pass, so one separates from the preceding stage and associates with the next on up to the present. This association may be agreeable at some stages along the way and disagreeable at others. But it cannot always be the way we want it to be. Disagreeable stages will have to be associated with and agreeable stages separated from and left behind.
Consciousness is much the same. The mind inclines-out to receive an object and initially consciousness arises. If it inclines-out to see a form then it is eye-consciousness (cakkhu-vinnana); to hear a sound is ear-consciousness (sota-vinnana). However, for the mind to see or hear, it must always depend on the visual and auditory organs, even though those eyes and ears are variable and mutable. The eyes will dim and become blurry; the ears will eventually be hard of hearing. Then the mind's inclining-out won't be able to see or hear as distinctly or effectively as before. The other sense-doors are similar. The body when aged and decrepit is no longer as serviceable or adaptable as before. So again one must be separated from that agreeable consciousness with its distinct hearing and clear vision and associate with less effective sight and hearing.
Feeling is also the same. Even though the inclining-out mind finds the pleasant feeling agreeable, it cannot have it that way all the time. Painful feeling is found disagreeable but it is not always present. Intermediate feelings may appear either agreeable or dull and disagreeable, yet even so we cannot have them always like that. Thus, we must continually associate with feelings which we do not like and be separated from those we do.
Perception follows after feeling in the same way. Sometimes one's memory and perception are bright and clear, and at other times they are not so good. And that is not all, for whenever we recollect things we like, then things we do not care for are remembered too. If we see or hear something disagreeable but then cannot remember it, there's nothing to be taken up and thought and concocted about. However, when we can remember it will quickly be taken up and processed in thought. It's just not possible not to want to remember: Sometimes those things we dislike intensely will be remembered more clearly than the things we like. Therefore, we must associate with percepts that we find disagreeable and be separated from those we like.
The thinking processes of mental-formations are also the same. The various forms of suffering must all come through the stage of thought processing. Otherwise, they won't arise. Sometimes a touch of sadness is processed and, perhaps because of concern or apprehension, becomes blown up into major distress. These mental-formations are therefore of vital importance and form a basis for the uprising of suffering. If you do not like suffering why do you concoct and think it up? Who does this thinking? Your own mind! No one else can come and think it up for you. Even though you do not wish for suffering, you always --without ceasing-- go on and process those thoughts that lead to suffering. You may not like suffering yet you indulge in such thinking! How can you ever escape suffering when it is like this?
These mental formations are also always coming into association and separating away. On occasion one must associate with disagreeable proliferating thoughts and at other times one is separated from agreeable thought processes. But it is always oneself who originates these thought concoctions leading to association, separation and suffering. One will not stop the processing and therefore one must continue to encounter mental-formations which breed suffering. One must suffer and cannot find a way out.
Examine and see these conditions of 'associating with' and 'separating away' in your own nama-rupa. Make sure you discern that the root cause of it all lies submerged as likes-and-dislikes in one's mind. Penetrate to see and comprehend this liking-and-disliking which leads and draws the mind away into the path of suffering. It turns consciousness into suffering-consciousness (dukkha-vinnana), feeling into suffering-feeling, perception into suffering-perception and mental formations into suffering-mental formations. When we penetrate to the truth of this, the liking-and-disliking will subside and be stilled. That mind proceeding down the path of suffering will now come to peace, and consciousness will cease to be suffering-consciousness, feeling will cease to be suffering-feeling, perception will cease to be suffering-perception and mental formations will cease to be suffering-mental formations. This means to say that the mind has stopped concocting suffering for itself and so suffering will subside.
This, then, is the strategy to halt the processing of suffering for oneself. You must practise to comprehend suffering and its way of operating within this nama-rupa. This is the only way to remedy the suffering of your mind.
Will you pay close attention while listening to what will be chanted now, and reflect upon that Truth of Suffering contained in these lines of the Lord Buddha Teaching, taken from the Great Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness:
Appiyasampayoga -- association with the disliked.
Piyavippayoga -- separation from the liked.
25th September 2504 B.E. (1961)
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Suffering Through Non-fulfilment of One's Hopes and Desires
I will now present Dhamma on the Noble Truth of Suffering (Dukkha Sacca)
in the section; 'the non-fulfilment of one's wishes is suffering.'
First of all, gather your mind together within yourself for this is where the Lord Buddha directed his teaching. Other people, following him, have similarly explained his teaching as pointing within. In listening to Dhamma you must therefore turn to see inside yourself. You will need to search out the five aggregates or the nama-rupa. When one encounters them one must also come to the true state of being which is the Truth of Suffering (Dukkha Sacca). This is because this Truth manifests in the five aggregates or nama-rupa, which form a basis for it. Anyone aspiring to comprehend suffering must therefore focus investigation on the plane of wisdom and insight. The wisdom and insight of the Lord Buddha's Teaching manifest in the nama-rupa. Without that nama-rupa, wisdom and insight cannot arise. It is similar to a person wanting to stand: If there is no ground, then there is nowhere to stand. Therefore, will each one of you now incline your mind inwards to examine your own nama-rupa.
Inspect your fathom-long, span-wide body. Examine nama as the mind is inclining-out to know: What is it knowing about? At the present time you are listening to this talk so the mind should incline-out to hear, as consciousness of sound. The pleasure, pain or indifference arising from this hearing is feeling; the marking and remembering about this hearing is perception; and the processing mind following the issue is mental-formations. This condition of the mind inclining-out is nama and when it inclines-out to know outside sounds then it is nama-in-external-sounds.
Each person therefore, exists only together with nama-rupa. If this is transcended, then 'person' does not appear. It is here in this nama-rupa that this 'I, me-and-mine' appears and is grasped hold of. This grasping is a concocting process of the mind and as such is a form of mental-formations which is another condition of the mind's inclining-out. You should therefore examine this feeling of 'me-and-mine': How deep and profoundly does it lie? You will then find that it only goes as far as the nama-rupa. If mental-formations, perception, feeling and seeing or hearing (etc.) are all lacking, then one has no experience of feeling or thinking at all. The physical body alone is merely like a hunk of wood totally without sensation or thought, and all sense of 'self-and-other' has completely gone. It's similar to being asleep, when feelings of 'self-and-other' and various cavorting thoughts are entirely lost. Whatever a person's status, he or she must fall under these conditions.
This sense of 'self-and-other' in its varying forms therefore appears only in the nama-rupa. When such 'self-and-other', 'mine-and-thine' are present then direct your vision towards the condition of desiring or wanting something. Therefore, with complete penetration into nama-rupa you must also detect this desire existing in the mind.
There are two forms of desire, one being that which is realizable, and the other that which is beyond reach. The desires and wishes that can be fulfilled are concerned with those objectives which are possible to attain. But this does not mean that they can all be attained just by wishing, for the appropriate causes must first be put into effect. For example, in making a 'realizable wish' to attain virtue and good, one must practise in the appropriate skilful ways to produce the right causes.
Do not criticise or find fault with desire per se, because the wish to attain virtue and the practise to achieve that is quite correct and right. This 'desire for good' the Lord Buddha called 'resolve' or 'determination' (adhitthana). The Bodhisatta resolved to attain Buddhahood by steadily following that Way. The Followers (Savaka) had also previously resolved to steadily attain to their state. If a person is working towards the completion and realization of his desire and that aspiration is made up with 'true determination' then it can be called 'true resolve' (sacca-adhitthana). The Lord Buddha counted this 'true-resolve' as one of the Perfections (Parami).
The type of desire which is unattainable goes against the principles of nature. Birth, ageing, illness and death are normal and inevitable. Sorrow, heartache, bodily pain, mental-distress and depression must all inevitably exist according to the state of things. To wish them away, forbidding their appearance, goes against the ways of nature. This desire can never be realized and so it too must add to the mind's suffering as the 'nonfulfillment of one's wishes.'
Now, come and consider this body and the mental group: this nama-rupa which I have already explained. It originated in birth; is developing and changing into old age; is painful and troublesome through sickness; and, finally, it must break up with death. This is the inevitable nature of nama-rupa. Examine now your mind. If it still includes grasping and holding, if it still contains desires, then there must also be sorrow and distress. It cannot escape them. The only way is to release and let go.
When one lets go of something then one escapes all the sorrow involved with that thing. If one lets go of everything then one is freed from all anguish. But if you cannot yet relinquish, then your grasping must inevitably bring suffering when your desires remain unfulfilled. Therefore focus to see these unattainable desires in your mind and then examine the suffering that arises when those wishes fail. See it as it really is.
Penetrating to this truth brings forth an up-to-the-mark wisdom which is able to separate and remove the suffering from one's mind. The nama-rupa will then follow its natural course while the observer watches. This observation is mindfulness and a combined mindfulness-and-wisdom (sati-pannya), which does not engage in concocting desires and suffering. Nama-rupa will then be seen following its natural course. It's as if there is a burning house. While one remains inside there will be agitation and panic, but on leaving one can then look back. One can now look-on that burning house without feeling any heat in oneself. One observes with knowledge. The happiness that springs forth from calmness and tranquillity will then appear.
Each person must confront both his own suffering and that of the various people he is concerned and involved with. If one collects all that suffering and loads it away in the mind, grasping and holding on to it, then this can only increase one's agitation and unhappiness. However, if one can steadily dislodge and throw out such suffering without adding any more, then the mind will be able to emerge unscathed.
It may not be possible for anyone always to evade the suffering stemming from external sources but the inner suffering can be avoided. We usually bring the external suffering into our minds as mental distress. It is therefore as if the suffering has two layers or levels: both the external and the inner. Those who practise following the Lord Buddha's Teaching know how to lighten and relieve the situation by leaving the external suffering alone outside without burdening the mind with it. Even if one then finds oneself in the midst of (external) suffering, one's mind remains content. Such happiness of mind allows mindfulness-and-wisdom to remedy whatever external suffering may possibly be cured. But if the mind fully accepts and burdens itself with the external suffering, then there is no way it can remedy the situation.
In order to separate these types of suffering you must depend and rely on the Way of practice as laid down by the Lord Buddha. Firstly, set yourself to see nama-rupa and know the state of its suffering. Recognize the mental suffering which arises from the non-fulfilment of unattainable desires. Penetrate to this so that, as the desire subsides, the mind grows calm and tranquil. When you have realized this then you will have received full benefit from your study into the Truth of Suffering of the Lord Buddha and will finally find happiness.
2nd October 2504 B.E. (1961)