No Secret Teachings.

Many early Buddhist suttas are repetitive, covering the same ground as many other suttas.  However, every once in a while you come across one that has a very different message.   Interestingly, these messages tend not to get repeated a lot and at least in my opinion are useful for preventing people from going in a direction that isn’t useful.   Here is such a sutta:


Not A Secret Doctrine

AN 3:129; 128


From

In The Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon Edited and introduced by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Page 88


“These three things, monks, are conducted in secret, not openly.

What three? Affairs with women, the mantras of the brahmins, and wrong view.

“But these three things, monks, shine openly, not in secret.

What three?

The moon, the sun, and the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathagata.”


 

Meditation – The Only Way by K. Sri Dhammananda

 

 

 

Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda was a Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist monk who wrote many books on Buddhism for free distribution.   Many of them have been digitized and made freely available online.   This one hasn’t been, until now.   Out of print for many, many, years the only option is to pay a ridiculous price for a used copy via online bookstores.  I didn’t like that as the poorest of the poor people in Buddhist countries will take money they do not have to donate it to Buddhist organizations so books such as the one below can be distributed freely to help people.   I had a copy ( destroyed in the scanning process ) on my bookshelf that I bought from a Buddhist temple in the 1990s. I decided to use a few of my own dollars to have it scanned and make it available for free, online.   Feel free to leave your opinions about the book in the comment section below.  Enjoy!

MeditationTheOnlyWayByKSriDhammananda

Video: How to stay with unpleasant feelings?

The dhamma talk for this week at the Buddhist Society of Western Australia was given by Venerable Hasapanna.   The topic, how to stay with unpleasant feelings.

Here is a summary of what I remember from this video.


Why deal with unpleasant feelings?

The Buddha said feelings lead to thoughts, thoughts to words, words to actions.
The Buddha there are 4 kinds of actions:
1. actions that are unpleasant in the present and produce unpleasant results in the future.
2. actions that are unpleasant in the present, but produce pleasant results in the future.
3.  actions that are pleasant in the present, but lead to unpleasant results in the future.
4. actions that are pleasant in the present and lead to pleasant feelings in the future.

Actions become habits and habits become patterns in regards to the type of actions .

Unpleasant feelings that are not dealt with lead to actions, habits, and patterns that produce unpleasant results.

Unpleasant feelings that are not dealt with lead to the frequent occurrences of panic attacks, anxiety, and depression as is seen in societies of today.

People develop a habit of not dealing with unpleasant feelings by pushing them aside.  It is such an ingrained habit they do not notice that they do it, nor are they ever fully conscious of the feeling being there ( “suppression” ).   This leads to the aforementioned problems with anxiety and depression, and the habit patterns of choosing actions that lead to more unpleasant results.

Doing metta meditation in the morning can keep unpleasant feelings from arising, but it doesn’t always work.

Thought substitution can bring temporary relief.

Metta meditation and thought substitution can be abused, in that people can use them to suppress and wallpaper over their problems with happy thoughts, which will only lead to the suppressed feelings growing stronger.

Suppressing a feeling strengthens a feeling making it more likely to recur and lead to bad further bad actions.   Suppression is when you push a feeling away without being aware that the feeling was ever there.

The way to deal with unpleasant feelings is to gradually build up the ability to be fully aware of them as they happen, and then to sit with the unpleasant feelings ( stay in awareness of them ) passively.  You also want to practice passively watching your thoughts.

You can develop the ability to be aware of feelings as they occur by bringing your mind back to the present moment whenever you notice it isn’t there AND do so without getting frustrated that your mind doesn’t stay in the present moment.   This will also strengthen your mind in other ways.

Keeping unpleasant feelings in your awareness, staying with them, is simple, but unpleasant to do.   You can build up to it, starting with short amounts of time and gradually lengthening the time you do it.

 

 

 

 

 

What Buddhism Is Not

People have many misconceptions about what Buddhism teaches.  Below is an interesting essay ( 9 pages ) by Buddhist monk Thanisarro Bhikkhu listing those common misconceptions and showing that those misconceptions actually come from 19th century European literature.

The essay is extracted from his book “Purity Of Heart”.

The Roots Of Buddhist Romanticism, by Thanisarro Bhikkhu

Video: How to deal with difficult events: Ajahn Brahmali

Ajahn Brahmali is a Norwegian Buddhist monk.   He is a student of the famous British monk Ajahn Brahm, who studied under Ajahn Chah.   This dhamma talk was inspired by the recent political events in the United States.

The Present Moment

presnetmoment

How to meditate on difficult emotions

About two years ago in February I traveled some distance to hear a favorite Buddhist monk talk. During a long break outside I struck up a conversation with a Korean Buddhist nun who was in the audience like I was. I told her I had a problem with the often repeated advice to just watch your feelings when you feel under duress. I told her that it often made the emotions worse for me, making me feel overwhelmed.

She recommended this book to me. I originally didn’t think much of the book when I started reading it two years ago and I did not think it was relevant to my problem with meditating on unpleasant emotions.

I picked it up again a few days ago where I left off and my impression of the book completely inverted. I now know why she recommended it to me. It has a technique for meditating on unpleasant emotions that is much more sophisticated than the often repeated just “watch your emotions come and go”.


“Don’t Look Down Your Defilements Are Laughing At You”
by
Sayadaw U Tejaniya


Pain/Unpleasant Sensations/Emotions
Pages 45 – 58


When you experience pains, aches and other bodily discomforts, it means you have a mental resistance to them and therefore you are not ready yet to observe these unpleasant physical sensations directly. Nobody likes pain and if you observe it while still feeling any resistance towards it, it will become worse. It is like when you are angry with someone; if you look at that person again and again you will become even angrier. So never force yourself to observe pain; this is not a fight, this is a learning opportunity. You are not observing pain to lessen it or to make it go away. You are observing it – especially your mental reactions to it – in order to understand the connection between your mental reactions and your perception of the physical sensations.

Check your attitude first. Wishing for the pain to decrease or go away is the wrong attitude. It does not matter whether the pain goes away or not. Pain is not the problem; your negative mental reaction to it is the problem. If the pain is caused by some kind of injury you should of course be careful not to make things worse, but if you are well and healthy, pain is simply an important opportunity to practice watching the mind at work. When there is pain, the mental feelings and reactions are strong and therefore easy to observe. Learn to watch anger or resistance, tension or discomfort in your mind. If necessary, alternate between checking your feelings and the attitude behind your resistance. Keep reminding yourself to relax the mind and the body, and observe how it affects your mental resistance.

There is a direct link between your state of mind and pain. The more relaxed and calm the observing mind, the less intense you will perceive the pain to be. Of course, if your mind reacts strongly to the pain (i.e. if you experience pain as unbearable) you should change your posture and make yourself comfortable.

So if you want to learn how to deal with pain skilfully, try this: From the moment you start feeling pain, no matter how weak it is, check your mind and body for tension, and relax. Part of your mind will remain aware of the pain. So check for tension again and again, and relax. Also check your attitude and keep reminding yourself that you have the choice to change your posture if you experience too much pain, as this will make the mind more willing to work with it. Keep repeating this until you no longer feel you want to watch the tension, the fear, the desire to get up, or the unwillingness to stay with the pain. Now you should change your posture.

When you are able to bear with pain, it does not mean that you are equanimous. Most of us start off by trying hard to sit for a fixed period of time, forcing ourselves not to move. If we succeed to sit for that full hour we feel great, otherwise we feel we have failed. We usually try to bear the pain longer and longer, i.e. we work on increasing our threshold of pain.

However, in this process we neglect watching the mind and we are not really aware of our mental reactions to the pain. We fail to realize that developing a high threshold of pain does not mean that the mind is not reacting to the pain.

If you stop forcing yourself to sit for a fixed period of time and instead start watching the mental reactions in the ways described above, your resistance to the pain will gradually decrease and your mind will become more equanimous. Understanding the difference between equanimity and being able to bear with pain is really important. Mindfulness meditation is not about forcing but about understanding. Real equanimity is the result of true understanding of the nature of liking and disliking through observation and investigation. It is best to look at pain directly only if you cannot feel a resistance to it. Keep in mind that there may be a reaction at a subtle level. As soon as you recognize mental discomfort, turn your attention to that feeling. If you can see subtle mental discomfort, watch it change; does it increase or decrease? As the mind becomes more equanimous and sensitive it will recognize subtle reactions more easily. When you look at mental discomfort at a more subtle level you may get to the point when your mind feels completely equanimous. If you look at pain directly and if there is true equanimity, mental discomfort will not arise anymore.

Remember that you are not looking at the reactions of the mind to make them go away. Always take reactions as an opportunity to investigate their nature. Ask yourself questions! How do they make you feel? What thoughts are in your mind? How does what you think affect the way you feel? How does what you feel affect the way you think? What is the attitude behind the thoughts? How does any of this change the way you perceive pain?

Try to apply the relevant points mentioned above to deal with any other physical discomforts such as itching, and feeling hot or cold. Moreover, whatever skills we learn in dealing with our reactions to physical discomforts can also be applied in dealing with defilements such as emotions of anger, frustration, jealousy, disappointment, or rejection as well as happiness, pleasure, lust or attachment. They and all their relatives – even their distant ones – should be dealt with in similar ways as pain. You need to learn to recognize and let go of both attachment and aversion.

When you investigate such emotions, it is important that you remind yourself that they are natural phenomena. They are not ‘your’ emotions; everybody experiences them. You always need to keep this in mind when you examine the thoughts and mental images that accompany emotions. All thoughts you identify with actually ‘fuel’ the emotions. However, when the emotion you experience is very strong, you might not be able to look at the accompanying thoughts without getting even more emotional. In such a case, it is usually best to first become very clearly aware of and look at the pleasant or unpleasant feelings and sensations that accompany the emotion. But if you find even looking at these feelings and sensations too overwhelming, you could turn your attention to a neutral or pleasant object, for example your breath or a sound. Doing this will skilfully distract the mind and stop it from thinking – or will at least reduce thinking. ‘You’ will no longer be so involved in the ‘story’ and therefore the emotion will subside. But do not completely ignore those feelings and sensations; take a look at them every now and then!

When a strong emotion has subsided, or when you are looking at a weak emotion, you will be able to look at the feelings, the thoughts plus the bodily sensations. The better you understand how they all interrelate, the more skilfully and effectively you will be able to handle any kind of emotion. Don’t forget to check your attitude: Check to see whether you really accept the emotion or whether you have a resistance towards it. Any unnoticed resistance to and any unnoticed identification with the emotion will ‘feed’ it, will make it grow bigger (snowball effect). Remember that the emotions do not need to go away at all. The objective is to know what the emotions feel like, to know what you are thinking when there are emotions, and to understand their ‘nature’ and the mind’s behavior.


Notes



**When you experience pain and bodily discomfort**

        A. It means you have a mental resistance to the pain and discomfort
                1. and are not ready to observe these sensations directly

**If you observe unpleasant sensations while having mental resistance to them**

        A. the unpleasant sensations will become worse

**You don't observe pain to make it go away**

        A. you observe it to understand the relationship between your mental
           reactions and your perception of the physical sensations.

**Check your attitude: don't wish the pain way**

        A. the pain isn't your problem, it is your mental reactions 
        B. it is an opportunity to watch mind at work.
                1. when there is pain, mental reactions and feelings are strong
                  and easy to observe.

**If necessary alternate your awareness between**

        A. your feelings
        B. the attitude behind your resistance.

**Remind yourself to relax your body and mind**

        A. observe how it effects the mental resistance
                1. there is a direct link between the state of your mind
                   and the pain
**To begin learning how to deal with pain skillfully**

        1.check your body and mind for tension, then relax
                A. repeat this, as part of your mind will be aware of the pain

**If you watch your mental reactions to the pain**

        A. your resistance to the pain will gradually decrease
        B. your mind will become more equanimous

**Equanimity is the result of understanding**

        A. the nature of liking and disliking
                1.  through observation and investigation

**Look at pain directly only when you don't feel mental resistance to it**

        A. or ONLY subtle resistance

**If you start to feel mental discomfort, watch that mental discomfort**

        A. does it increase or decrease?

**Check your attitude: you are not looking at the mental reactions to make them go away**

        A. but as an opportunity to observe/learn about your mental reactions
                1. how do they make you feel?
                2. what thoughts are in your mind?
                3. how does what you think effect how you feel?
                4. what thoughts are in your mind?
                5. how does what you feel effect how you think?
                6. what is the attitude behind the thoughts?
                7. how does this change the way you perceive pain?

**Try to apply these techniques to other discomforts and your emotions**

        A. both negative and positive emotions
        B. attachments and feelings of aversions

**When you investigate emotions** 

        A. remind yourself they are natural phenomenon
        B. remind yourself that are your not "your" emotions
               1. everyone experiences these emotions so they can't be "yours"
        C. remind yourself all thoughts you identify 
            with will fuel your emotions


**VERY STRONG emotions**

        A. might cause you to get more emotional when you look 
            at the thoughts associated with them

**When looking at thoughts associated with an emotion makes you more emotional**

        1. Look at the unpleasant and pleasant sensations of that emotion
                A. if that proves to be overwhelming    
                        1. turn your attention to a neutral object
                                A. your breath
                                B. a sound

**Putting your attention on a neutral object**

        1. will reduce or stop your mind from thinking, distracting it, 
           calming it.
                A. you will no longer be involved in the "story" and the
                   emotion will subside.

**Do not completely ignore those emotions and sensations, look at them
     every now and then.**


**When the strong emotions have subsided, or when looking at a weak emotion**

        A. you will be able to look at the feelings, thoughts, and bodily
           sensations.
                1. the more you understand how those 3 things interrelate,
                    the more skillfully you will be able to handle your 
                    emotions.


**Check you attitude:  do you accept the emotion or do you have resistance to
    it?**

**Any unnoticed resistance or unnoticed identification with an emotion**

        1. will feed that emotion

**Remind yourself that the emotions do not need to go away**

        A. the objective is to observe
                1. to know what the emotions feel like
                2. to know what you are thinking when you feel these emotions
                3. and understand their nature and the mind's behavior