Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Vipassana for Beginners: Day 2

DJKR Taiwan 201212 512px

Two-day public teaching in Taipei, Taiwan: “Vipassana primarily for beginners and non-Buddhists”
Day 2: December 12, 2020
AM: Talk 6: 59 minutes, Talk 7: 38 minutes
PM: Talk 8: 47 minutes, Talk 9: 54 minutes, Talk 10: 14 minutes

Transcript: Day 1
Transcript: Day 2: AM: Talk 6Talk 7; PM: Talk 8Talk 9Talk 10. Includes audio recordings of DJKR leading meditations on mindfulness of mind from two different traditions: (1) observing; (2) knowing.


Note 1: This transcript is not an official publication of Siddhartha’s Intent. Every effort has been made to ensure that this transcript is accurate both in terms of words and meaning, however all errors and misunderstandings are the responsibility of the editors of madhyamaka.com. Please see note.


Note 2: This transcript includes footnotes with clarifications and more information about Tibetan and Sanskrit Buddhist terms used in the teaching. Please click on the superscript number to read the footnote. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s name is abbreviated to “DJKR” throughout.


Talk 6

Recap: an overview of vipassana

Welcome to those who just joined us today. And welcome back to those who were here yesterday. I think for both, probably [it would be] good to recap some of the things we did yesterday. We talked about [how] the single most powerful thing that one can do is observe. And actually, you do observe by nature. What we call mind is an observer. And this is something that you don’t need to acquire. You already have it.[With vipassana] what we are trying to do is trying to observe fully. Without interference. Open-mindedly. And trying to observe without prejudice. And even though all this list that I’m citing sounds very daunting and very complicated, it is not.

I mean, right this very moment, you are conscious of something. Let’s just find out.

[DJKR sits for 30 seconds]

And this is it. This is what we are going to take advantage of. It’s a bit like you have a knife, [so] let’s use it to cut potato, tomato, whatever. You can just use it. And let’s use it to its full potential. Independently. Without being influenced by all kinds of theories, like religious, scientific, and political.

Now, we have to begin somewhere. So here in the classic Buddhist technique of vipassana, which also has many varieties, what we are beginning with is based on the four mindfulnesses1cattaro satipatthana (Pāli: चत्तारो सतिपट्ठाना) = the four establishments of mindfulness. or four awarenesses, I should say. And really, please keep it simple. We are not talking about anything exotic. Just being aware of body.

Of course many times, even though body is so intertwined2Ed.: DJKR said “immersed”. with mind, we we are not conscious of it. We are not aware of it. We are not aware that every moment our hair is growing. We are not aware that every moment a breath is going out, and the next moment A breath is coming in. Probably you are not aware that you are sitting right now. Maybe a little later when [you have been] sitting for too long, then you will be aware “Oh, pain”. You know, discomfort. Then you’ll be aware that there is a body.

So what we are going to do, since the morning is a good [time] for many of us, is ten minutes of awareness of the body. And there are few options you have.

One is just be aware of the body. It’s not even like “Oh, I have a body, I have a body, I have a body”. That’s a theory. Just be aware of your body. I know that you have a body. We all know that you have a body. We don’t need that theory anymore. Just acknowledge and be aware of the body. At times in parts. [At] some other times, maybe [the] whole [body]. And if that is too abstract for you, then I would suggest that you concentrate on breathing in and out. Be aware of breathing in and out. The body.

We also talked about feelings yesterday. And we talked about who are you or what are you. And from the Buddhist point of view, you are the body, the feelings, the mind, and what we call dharmas. And they are very related, actually. Very related. Intertwined. So, during this first 10 minute [meditation], even though we may be [paying attention] more to the body, it’s okay if you want to just watch the feelings. You know, like [the] feeling of breathing in and out. But anyway, we are going to [talk about] feelings more specifically after the first ten minutes.

And I think it’s always good to discipline ourselves to sit straight. And also to not give in to bodily needs such as aching or [discomfort]. In other words, not to scratch and not to re-sit [i.e. adjust your sitting position]. So let’s do a ten minute meditation on [observing] the body. More the body. You can include some [observing] feelings if you want. Okay.

[DJKR sits for 10 minutes]

Sometimes language and words are very deceiving. We talked about this yesterday. The whole point of doing vipassana is to see the truth. Once you see the truth you have finished your work. Then that is actually the liberation. If you have a having a nightmare,[then] once you know “Oh, I’m just dreaming”, it’s finished. It doesn’t mean that you will stop dreaming. [But] you will not be caught by the dream [any longer]. In fact you might even play with it. Who knows? That’s up to you. But until you know the truth, you are going to be the victim of that game.

But words and phrases like “truth” or “realization of the truth” are so self-deceiving because, for one [thing], they make you think [all this] is a such a big deal. And it’s so difficult for me because in a way, yes, of course it’s a big deal. To wake up from a nightmare is of course a big deal. But at the same time, it is something so simple. So [there will be] see-sawing between [appreciating] the importance of waking up to the truth and [also] really having the confidence in the simplicity. [Appreciating both of] these two, this seesaw, is [going to be] a challenge for you.

And of course words like “nirvana” don’t help, especially when they are hyped with photos of rainbows and I don’t know. Nirvana. [The phrase “realizing the truth” is] damaged by the idea of nirvana too much. But you know, that hyping is also necessary for many people.

[I could say] “Just observe your body. Don’t judge, just observe. No hope, no fear, no contriving. Just observe. And then as you observe, you [will] begin to realize the truth of the body. [A] big part of the truth of the body is that it’s passing, always impermanent, changing, changing. Once you know that, then your whole attitude towards the body has changed.”

[But if] I then say “This is nirvana”, for a lot of people, that’s going to be difficult to accept. So for a lot of people, it’s easier if I paint a land of Amitabha, with Amitabha in the center with all the lofty colored lotuses and all those kinds of things. You know, it works. And that should not be condemned.

Yes, there are a lot of modern so-called vipassana people who condemn these things, which is so unfortunate. So-called modern people, they pretend [to] themselves [that they are] being very scientific. So they think that ideas like the land of Amitabha are like a fairy tale. But if you read the Amitabha Sutra, you will realize that actually, it’s exactly the [same] truth that that we are exploring here. It just comes with a different packaging, so to speak.

Anyway. Again going back to the body. You know, generally we do not observe [things] like Taipei 101 behind me. We sort of have an idea of Taipei 101, but we do not really observe. But if you keep observing, then you will actually see things that you have [until now] sort of overruled or ignored.

Okay, now feelings. I’m going to talk a little bit more about feelings. The [category of] feelings is much bigger. Feelings are a bridge between your body and mind, so to speak. And most of the gross feelings come from our body, of course. But a lot of the subtle feelings also come from certain habits that we have developed, [and these] are very related to mind. This is very obvious.

If your feelings get hurt because someone said that you are too thin or too fat, this kind of feeling of hurt comes from education or information. And lots and lots of our feelings are just [like] that. They are something that we have learned, values that we have developed.

Going deeper, some of the feelings are very inner. For instance, for some of us just the sight of a snake is unbearable. [But] there are a lot of others who use the snake as a pet. The snake coils everywhere and they love it. Just everything about snakes, they love it. So here, the Buddhists are now beginning to talk about very subtle causes and conditioning.

Like fear of ghosts for instance. Again, this is very related to education. Some people don’t even believe in ghosts. I’m talking about the ghosts that we usually talk about, like spirits. Some people may believe in ghosts but they’re not necessarily afraid of them. [They have] no feeling, no specific feeling [about ghosts]. Going deeper, there are feelings of being left out. Feeling left behind, I think that’s better. Alienation. Again, for all these feelings, don’t think that there are specific causes and conditions that are playing the game. It’s all very related. 

And it gets so complicated. For instance, maybe in this society you cherish things like filial piety. Like family, all that. Well, this may have come from the Confucian culture of really paying homage to the ancestors. That could be a little bit [of it]. But you play a big role yourself, because many times [with] filial piety, the whole family thing also works for you. That’s the nest. That’s the home.

And then of course, there’s the pressure also. Again, it could be coming from education, “You must respect and obey your father, mother, grandparents”. Of course, there is that education. I have a lot of friends from this part of the world, so to speak. And it’s really amazing to observe them. Because they are so obedient towards their parents, for instance, but they really hate the fact that they’re obedient. Then, of course, [there is] modern education, which is totally alien to you, [as it is] coming from another part of the world. That is also not helping us. 

I’m just giving you a picture of feeling, on a much deeper level. Anyway, our job here is not really to study and analyze these feelings. You can do that in psychology studies and psychotherapy studies. Probably [that] will give you some information. What are we doing here? One thing that you are capable of doing. Observe. Nothing more. Just observe and observe. And no judgement, of course not. And not really [asking questions] like “Where is it coming from? Why is it coming?” That is endless.

So to zoom out [i.e. from the big picture perspective], that’s what we have to do. So we will do [some meditation] again, once more for ten minutes. This time, let’s begin with concentrating on bodily sensations. And then, I don’t know what feelings you have. If you notice one, just observe that. And don’t do anything about it. That’s what we will do. 10 more minutes.

[10 minutes sitting]

In bookshops there are a lot of books about self-help. And there are a lot of books about self-discovery. And books about building confidence. I mean, of course, how can I stop you reading those books? Please read them. But there’s nothing much to discover.

You have a body. You have feeling. You have mind, cognizance. And you have lots of references. That’s about it. That’s about all there is discover. And if you can acknowledge that, and if you if you can also acknowledge the truth [that you will discover] after observing the body and feelings, that is self-confidence. Confidence is built on truth. I’m a man, so when I go to toilet I don’t have to think “Should I go to the women’s or men’s or women’s or men’s?” I just go to the men’s.

Like this, if you know the truth [you can do so] by observing the body. The truth is rise, pass. Passing, passing, passing, arising, arising, arising. That’s the [truth of the] body. Basically, impermanence. And if you are observing feelings, the truth that you will discover is that nothing is ultimately satisfying. We’ll talk about this non-satisfying part after the break. Let’s have a ten minute break.

[END OF TALK 6]


Talk 7

Q & A

Okay as people are walking in maybe we’ll just do some questions and answers.

[Q]: During the meditation session when [you] asked “Who are you?”, I examined all the parts of the body and thought there was a voice in my mind that answered “I don’t know”. What exactly is the next step after getting this shocking answer? And according to [my] experience shamatha calms the mind and vipassana awakens the mind. But sometimes it feels disturbing. My question is whether such disturbing feeling can be considered as part of the vipassana meditation?3Ed.: This question was also asked and answered during Talk 4 on Day 1. 

[DJKR]: Yes, of course. Finding the truth can be very shocking, I guess. You are looking at a ring of fire, and you think that it’s actually a ring of fire. But when the person slows down, then yes, I don’t know if “shocking” is the right word, but [then you realize] “Ah, [it’s] just one single fire being moved very fast [in a circle]”.

As for the question, “Who am I?” Of course, you are welcome to ask this question again and again. I mean, I’m sure there are a lot of people who do this. But I would suggest that you save this time. [There’s] no need to ask this question. Who are you? As I said, you are the body, you are feelings, you are mind, and you are phenomena. That’s it. Beyond that, you will not find anything. This answer was given 2500 years ago and I don’t think there’s any more to it than that. Sure, you can talk about a soul and the beautiful thing blah blah blah. All that falls into the fourth category of phenomena. You know, “I’m a man. I’m a woman. I’m a liberal. I’m conservative”. I don’t know, all this “I’m something”.

Yesterday I gave you the example of coffee. Let’s say you want to have an Americano. There are some some indispensable ingredients. One of them is water, for example, if you want to drink an Americano. If you just want unground or ground or roasted coffee or whatever [on its own] without drinking, then of course, just coffee beans will do. But coffee Americano, probably the most important ingredient is the bean itself, right?[In answering “Who are you?”] the four aspects are actually equally important. But I would say that if you have to choose [the parts that are] the more essential parts of you, then I would choose the mind and the phenomena. Those two are a big deal. Most of the vipassana people just do a little bit with the body and a little bit with feelings and that’s it. They dare not go to the mind and the phenomena. It’s too complicated.


Okay, so let’s just pretend we [have] kind of generalized [about mindfulness of] the body and feelings. I mean, there’s much more than what we have done, but this is good enough as an introduction I think.

Especially the feelings. It’s really something very vast. We live in what [Buddhists] call kamadhatu4kamadhatu (Sanskrit: कामधातु) = the “Desire Realm”, so called because the beings inhabiting it are prey to intense emotion and crave happiness based on the pleasures of the senses – see kamadhatu., which means we we live in the feeling realm5Ed.: the translator clarified whether he should use the traditional translation of “desire” realm, and DJKR clarified “feeling, I guess”.. We are feeling oriented. [In] just so many [ways]. Like birthday cards. It’s all to do with feelings, isn’t it? To make someone happy. I don’t know, it could make somebody unhappy if you are 60 years old. You don’t want to be reminded right? If hundreds of people say “Happy birthday. Now you are 60.” I’m talking about myself. Feelings are so big. If there were no feelings, Amazon will drop. Taobao6Taobao (Chinese: 淘宝网) is a Chinese online shopping website, headquartered in Hangzhou, and owned by Alibaba. It was ranked as eighth most visited website in 2020 – see wikipedia. will drop. Crash.

Mindfulness of Mind

Now let’s do the mind. Now, this is very big. As I said yesterday quite a lot, this is something that you cannot just delete or eject. Well, of course they are related: body, feelings and the mind. But mind is much more pervasive. Where body cannot reach, feelings can reach. But where feelings cannot reach, mind can reach. And mind is also the vessel, if you like, the ground [on which or in which] feelings and body and all these interact. It’s like a vessel

We can talk about [intelligence]. Probably it’s not necessary, [but] I was thinking about intelligence. Artificial or not artificial intelligence. But intelligence is just one small part of the mind7Ed. DJKR said “body”. This has been changed.. Yes, intelligence is defined as the ability to comprehend or understand. But mind is much more than that. Ironically, let me put it this way. Even [when you are] not comprehending [something], who is not comprehending? That is also the mind.

Yes. I think the English word “mind” is not doing justice to words like chitta8chitta (Pāli & Sanskrit: चित्त) = mind; ordinary dualistic mind – see chitta. in Sanskrit or sem9sem (Tibetan: སེམས་; Wylie: sems) = mind, ‘cognitive act’, thoughts, mentation, cognition, grasping mind; ordinary dualistic mind; the ordinary mind that comprises our ordinary perceptions, thoughts and emotions – see sem. in Tibetan. What is the word for “mind” in Chinese?

[Translator]: xin10xin (Chinese: 心, pinyin: xīn) = mind, the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit word chitta. However, xin has a broader semantic range than chitta, including “thought, intellect, mentality, the mind as the seat of intelligence” but also “heart, spirit, motive”, “wholeheartedness, sincerity, attention, interest, care, intention” and even “essence, core, marrow” – see xin..

[DJKR]: What does that mean?

[Translator]: Mind.

[DJKR]: Heart?

[Translator]: Yes, [to] some [extent].

[DJKR]: You know, this part of the world has invested a lot of time and energy [in thinking about, writing about, and exploring the mind], at least in the past. I mean, just those guys who went to mountains like Hua Shan and all of those, they went there for that. [Whereas] the study of mind came very late in Europe, for instance. Before that, everything was God-made and all of that. And they were satisfied with this. And then there were people like Freud in the late 19th/early 20th century11Ed. DJKR said “17th, 18th century … around that time? I don’t know. I’m not so sure”. This has been changed.. I don’t know [much] about Freud. I haven’t read much. But [from the little that] I have read, some of his ideas like libido, desire, and lust are very interesting. That guy really thought a lot. Because it’s very similar to Buddhist teachings.

Anyway, right now, let’s just make it simple. The mind that we are talking [about] is basically the thing that manages to cognize, or that cognizes things. We talked about that right at the beginning yesterday. Do you have a mind? You must. The difference between you and the table is that you have a mind.


Guided meditation on mindfulness of mind – Version 1: Observing

This time, I’m going to guide you in this part. So just follow my instructions as you meditate, as you [practice] this third awareness, the awareness of mind.

[DJKR leads meditation on mindfulness of mind: observing]  [t = 3M 35S]

Okay, so please sit straight.

Let’s just observe the body. [Let’s] say, [your] fingers.

Your head.

Your belly.

As you observe your belly, now observe the observer.

Now as you do that, your mind must be already gone somewhere.

No need to search where it is gone.

Observe your breathing in and out.

As you observe the breathing, this time observe the observer.

Okay, let’s stop.


Okay, I will do this one more time, again guided, slightly different. Maybe in between that, [we can have] one or two questions. When you are watching the observer, don’t try to find an answer. Just watch the observer. No need [for an] answer. It’s useless.

[Q]: [There is the tradition of] anapanasati12anapanasati (Pāli: आनापानसति) = mindfulness of breathing – see anapansati. and practicing dhyana13dhyana (Sanskrit: ध्यान, IAST: dhyāna) = meditative concentration, meditation, mental focus – see dhyana. with awareness of the breathing. [There is also the tradition of] shikantaza14shikantaza (Japanese: 只管打坐, literally “just sitting”) = a meditation practice where one stays intensely focused and aware without focusing on any particular object – see shikantaza., which seems like meditation without any conditions. Which one should I choose to practice?15Ed.: This question was also asked and answered during Talk 4 on Day 1.

[DJKR]: This is difficult. You just have to find whatever you feel inclined [towards]. Also, this time we are almost doing as just a general introduction, so to speak. If you really want to pursue this, it’s possible. Just do shikantaza for a year. Just that. I believe that it is a complete path. So is anapanasati.

This time I’m trying to give you some general framework for the whole vipassana, so to speak. So what I was really aiming for is [that] I want you to realize that you have the single16Ed. DJKR said “only”. This has been changed. most powerful thing that exists in the whole universe. The single thing that is most powerful is the power of observing, being able to observe.

You have that. How much are you using it? Of course, that depends. Most likely you are only using one ten-thousandth of one percent of it. And even that, when you’re using it, you’re using it through lots of filters. It’s like you are looking at [things] through green [sunglasses]. A lot of filters. A lot of sunglasses.

You know, like [the filter or lens of being] a man. [You might look at things] as a man [DJKR holds up his bottle of water and looks at it closely]. I don’t know, all kinds of things. [You might look at things] as a Buddhist. So you add up all these filters [i.e. there are multiple filters on top of each other], and then [you also have] all kinds of political values, social values, religious values.

So what we have been trying to do is trying to really be independent from these filters. And then we try to sort of stir this sort of vipassana journey in a classic way, which is based on observing body, feelings, and now mind, and then later phenomena.


Guided meditation on mindfulness of mind – Version 2: Knowing

Okay, we are going to do the next one, which is actually probably [an approach to practicing vipassana] that many [other Buddhist traditions] especially the Tibetan Buddhists would [prefer]. They would have have preferred this second one that I’m about to tell you.

[DJKR leads meditation on mindfulness of mind: knowing]  [t = 6M 20S]

Okay, so please sit straight again.

There has to be some sort of a cognizance right now that’s happening. At the least it’s [cognizance of] my voice.

Or it could be some sort of a depression or sadness. Longing. It doesn’t matter. Something, some sort of cognition is happening at the moment. [There] must be. You are not a table.

You just have to know that. As it is happening.

Not recalling “Oh, I was thinking about [Taipei] 101”. That’s sort of okay, but it’s not so good.

It could be something so silly. It could be some incredible creativity. You only have one thing to do. That is just know that that’s happening.

And if no thought seems to be happening, that’s also fine. Just knowing that there is no thought is already a thought. Just know that.

If no thought happens, don’t consider that is something good and try to keep it.

If you can actually be aware of a thought and sometimes [it] feels that you can actually maintain that awareness, also don’t think that’s good and try to preserve it.

It’s nothing special.

If so many thoughts come, and you feel this is not good. If you feel agitated, don’t try to stop it. Don’t try to judge that, as if it is something bad.

So many clouds. No clouds. Doesn’t make any difference for the sky.


This afternoon we will do this more intensively. And I think we will actually talk more about the mind. The phenomena and the mind, they are so related. I mean, [the category of] phenomena has its own different elements, but probably it’s a little bit [too much for this introduction to vipassana]. Maybe many of you beginners are not ready to hear it. But I will talk about it. Okay, let’s have a lunch break. Two o’clock?

[END OF TALK 7]


Talk 8

Q & A

We’ll begin with questions I guess.

[Q]: How come thoughts are not in the four categories, or where do they belong?

[DJKR]: Thoughts are in the mind category. But it’s a little bit complicated because this is also where all the different Buddhist schools vary a little bit, but I don’t think this is something that we would like to spend our time [on]. What you really need to know is there is cognizance. I’m sure you have the words in Chinese, “inanimate” and “animate”17The translator used the words 有情 (pinyin: yǒuqíng) = sentient, and 無情 (pinyin: wúqíng) = insentient..

You have feelings. You cognize things. You choose. You decide. You comprehend. Yes intelligence is a part of [what is means to be] animate. This is why right at the beginning, I was really talking about [how] you and I have to come to an agreement, even it’s a vague one, that’s fine. [We need] some sort of agreement that we have mind. And thoughts are what the Buddhists call “mental factors”18chaitashika (Sanskrit: चैतसिक, IAST: caitasika or चित्त सम्स्कर, citta samskara) = mental factors or states as described within the teachings of the Abhidharma (Buddhist psychology) – see chaitashika.. So it’s like a splinter of mind. There’s an extensive study of this [in the Abhidharma], like the 52 different mental factors and so forth. But maybe this much is all you need to know.


[Q]: Can Rinpoche teach us to meditate on emptiness? Is that included in the four mindfulness? And also, can you teach us how to incorporate bodhichitta. Why is bodhichitta always ignored in vipassana meditation?

[DJKR]: I see. That’s a timely question. [I will make] a really broad generalization.

(1) Body: By observing the body again and again and again, what you will realize is the truth of anicca, which is change. Not just that, but mainly that. There are a lot of other things you will also realize. I think we already talked [about this], but maybe some of you were not here. [You will realize the truth of] change, and then that body is not just one unit [in the way that] we usually think. For instance, think about your body right now. Shit is not included. Intestines are not included. It’s just one vague sort of [concept], like shoulder and a hand hanging. That’s what I was talking [about] yesterday. When you are [very] well trained [in observing the body], you see all these parts separately. I don’t want to go there too much. But it’s a quite an incredible achievement. We are talking about 2500 years ago, how people without any magnifying glass, microscope, or laboratory [were able] to directly experience this, actually by just observing. It’s an achievement actually.

And there’s actually much more than this. For instance, you may have some sort of beginning of an ailment in part of your body. Let’s say, I don’t know, [there’s something] somewhere in your kidneys which you don’t know [about] now [or] in general. If you become really good at this first stage of the vipassana, it’s as clear as looking at my palm. But I know that as soon as I begin to talk like this then many of you will think, “Oh, he’s talking about some clairvoyance or supernatural power”. No. Nothing [like that]. It’s a direct experience. It’s just that at the moment, you are not observing. I was giving you the example of [Taipei] 101. Just 101, that’s it. It’s some vague 101. [But] if you keep observing, then you will see a lot of things. The greenness of it, the blueness of it, and the spaciousness of this [building]. Just so many things. It’s just like that actually. And then also remember I said you will also realize the dependent nature of the body. But mainly the anicca part, the impermanence part. That’s obvious.

(2) Feelings: Let’s move to the feelings. Keep on observing the feelings. And remember, keep in mind I’m only saying “Observing the feelings”. I’m not putting any color in it, like visualizing it in this way [or] that way. Nothing. Just looking at the feelings. Then you [will] begin to see the truth of the feelings. Well, of course, [you will see] the [way] that feelings change. You will see the impermanence aspect of the truth, the changing as truth. But more specifically, I think what you will realize is the unsatisfactoriness. It’s a little more difficult to describe the unsatisfactoriness, the [Sanskrit word is] dukkha, but I think for now, “unsatisfactoriness” is okay.

You will also realize the dependency of this. Let’s say you are depressed. What happens usually when a person is depressed, they think “Okay, this is it. This is the doom. This is the Armageddon of my life. I’m stuck. I’m finished. This is it”. That’s what they feel. It shows they are not understanding the anicca aspect, the impermanence aspect. And they are not understanding the aspect of the dependency. You know, it’s just a shift [in your way of looking at things]. Really, it’s this simple. A depressed person is like this [DJKR looks in a forwards direction]. And even shifting the view like this [DJKR turns his head towards the left], even that has some impact. Okay, so [that’s dukkha] the truth of unsatisfactoriness or suffering. Suffering is not a good word. I think we need to change this.

(3) Mind: Now, the third one. Mind. You’re looking at the mind. Observe mind, observe mind, observe mind. What is the truth you will discover? Anatta. Selflessness. This incredibly powerful observer, as powerful as it is, it doesn’t have any truly existing nature that you can [refer to as] “This is me. This is I”. So, in a way, what you are doing when you doing the third one [observation of mind or mindfulness of mind], you are doing emptiness meditation.

(4) Phenomena: Let me just finish with the fourth. When you do the fourth, observing phenomena, the truth that you will realize by looking at the phenomena will be that defilements are removable. That there is no such thing as defilements, dirt, or garbage [that cannot be removed]. You feel you’re so stuck. Okay. There may be [defilements], but they’re removable. This is an important one. If you don’t know that defilements are removable, there’s no point in doing vipassana. Of course, if you are doing vipassana just to be stress free and for some relaxation, then you can do [it even if the defilements aren’t removable]. But the real Buddhist vipassana? No point. If you don’t believe that the stain on your cup is removable, you will not wash [it].

Because even though it looks so dirty and so strange, you have the confidence that it’s just temporary. It’s removable. That’s why you can keep [a dirty cup] in the sink for days sometimes. [Likewise], you have anger, you have desire, you have jealousy, you have this and that. All this garbage is removable. They are temporary and they are not you19Ed.: Many translators choose the word “adventitious” to describe this characteristic of the defilements. This is a central topic in the Uttaratantra-shastra by Maitreya.. They are stains from outside. [They are] temporary. Again, as I said, mind and phenomena are really big ones. But at the moment we’re just sort of covering [them] very generally.

Okay, maybe some more questions? We will not meditate right now, because we just had lunch.


[Q]: You asked us to observe the observer. Who is doing the observing? Isn’t it ultimately the same? Isn’t the mind the same as the observer?

[DJKR]: Yes, you were not here yesterday, that’s why. Yes, [this is] the incredible thing about mind. You know, we make a such a hype about “Wow, mind. Because of this mind. I can see this” [DJKR picks up his bottle of water]. But there’s something else that mind does that’s far bigger than this.

Mind knows mind itself. Simultaneously. Actually I shouldn’t even say “Mind knows mind itself.” Mind by nature is self awareness. The closest example I can give you is a lamp. A lamp lights everything, but we don’t need another torch to [illuminate] itself. It illuminates itself. Likewise, the greatest thing that the mind does is it knows itself. But for now, for most of you [especially] those who have not done meditation before, you will feel like one mind is looking at another mind.

But it’s okay. Just keep on doing it. As you keep on doing it, keep on doing it, the wall between the observer and the observed will collapse. Then you will know that there is no such thing as object independent from subject. This is nonduality. Back to emptiness again. I think many people who don’t know how to read the Heart Sutra properly always read “No nose, no eyes, no this, no that” as a negation. But it’s really not a negation at all. I shouldn’t be talking so much. But you can just feel it. Mind knows itself. It’s very self evident. It’s always there and it knows itself.


[Q]: It’s easier for me to concentrate while closing my eyes to observe body and breathing. Should I always do that or should I open my eyes?

[DJKR]: I will leave that with you. Do whatever suits.


[Q]: If I can understand the nature of mind, and understand [that] the mind has no coming and no going, how can I keep practicing in normal daily life and work?

[DJKR]: Once you are used to it, [there will be] absolutely no problem. I would not worry so much about all these theories, like no coming, no going, no beginning, no end, all of that. During the vipassana just observe the mind. Preferably observe this-moment mind.

Now of course, most of the beginners start20Ed. DJKR said “initiate”. This has been changed. by observing [body, feelings etc.] while sitting like this. Then if possible, you try to do this [observation of the body, feelings etc.] momentarily here and there during post-meditation. So this is why there are things like walking meditation. And this is where things like the Japanese tea ceremony come from. I mean, there are all these [elaborate elements of the ritual] the cup going like this and like that. But the tea itself is nothing of a big deal. It’s not that even delicious, actually. But [the tea ceremony] is a training [in practicing observation and mindfulness in post-meditation].

And yes, you can do chopping the onion meditation, and you can do it very stringently21Ed. DJKR said “vigorously”. It has been changed to suit the context, including DJKR indicating chopping an onion in a fine and non-vigorous slicing motion. by chopping it really thin. Now we are becoming very tedious and individual. So this is where your coach may say, “Oh, you chop your onion very thin” [DJKR indicates chopping in a fine slicing motion]. Or I might ask him, “No, you should chop your onion in chunks” [DJKR indicates vigorous and energetic chopping with large arm movements]. Basically at that time, just observe. But again when I say “observe”, I’m not talking about this [DJKR sits straight in formal meditation posture]. Of course you can’t chop onions like this. So, [chop] whichever way you want to chop.

After a few months of that, then apply this [i.e. observing the mind, preferably this-moment mind] when you are arguing with your husband or wife. It’s the same thing. Chopping onions, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, all this. You try to blend in [observing this-moment mind into whatever you are doing]. I guess the best example is a surfer. The bigger the wave, [the more] the surfers enjoy it, right? They get so excited when there’s a big wind and big waves, then they can really glide with this. Likewise, the bigger the kleshas, the bigger the defilements, the bigger the emotions then meditators know how to delight [in that].

This is achievable. As I say this, it may scare some of you. You might think, “Wow, he must be talking about some very high level”. No, not really. This is achievable. It’s much easier than [achieving a] six pack. Six pack is difficult. Two days of missing the gym, that’s it. Back to square one. Really I’m serious. This is very easy to achieve. I myself have met many, many practitioners who glide with the [emotions]. It’s achievable. Especially when these practitioners were dying. Yes, they were really [able to] glide with it.

Again we are not talking [about] any supernatural power. Nothing. I mean, it’s just the art of getting used to it, right? I mean, for an untrained person like me, when I watch people driving, it’s fascinating. Especially when Stephanie drives. She can look [to the] front, back, side. Steering. Filing nails. Texting. Fixing [her makeup]. So that’s actually almost close to a supernatural power.

Anyway, one more question, and then we will meditate.


[Q]: Sometimes when I start to feel the sense of “I”, I feel terrible [as if I’m] stuck [in] a prison. It’s like being locked in a steel coffin sinking into the sea. What should I do with it?

[DJKR]: Practically, you should just observe that. Really. Don’t do anything. Even if there is a formula, don’t apply [it]. I beg you. Even if there’s a formula to counter this, some sort of solution, don’t use it. Just observe that. I know for beginners this may not satisfy you. Because we have a such a Panadol mind. Everything has to be fixed right away. It’s like a tea bag sort of mentality22Ed. i.e. making instant tea, rather than the deliberate and slow-moving process of a tea ceremony as DJKR described in his answer to an earlier question.. But really, even that feeling low. Just watch. Just watch. Just watch. Please bank on this. It really is the most economical. [It has] no side effects at all. And [there will be] a lot of discovery. In about two months you will want that feeling low. You will become like this fisherman who is fishing in a river stream where there are not many fish. You will want that low feeling, so that you can catch it and feel gratified.


Mindfulness of mind and phenomena

Okay, what we will do is again we will sit for a few minutes. This time we will do [mindfulness of] mind. And [you can use] whichever method I was talking about.

(1) Observing: One way is to observe. First you practice observing the body or feelings or something, and then observing the observer.

(2) Knowing: Or you can practice just knowing whatever is happening in your mind. And by the way, the moment you know whatever is happening in your mind, then most likely that thought will disappear. Don’t treat that as a victory. It’s nothing. And let’s say you are thinking about, I don’t know, a coffee shop. Just know that. But if your mind then goes to a wine shop, don’t tell yourself, “Oh, I have to finish with the coffee shop first”. No need. Go to the wine shop. Wherever your mind is, just be there.

Okay, let’s do something like five minutes. Okay, please start.[DJKR sits for 5 minutes]

Okay.

We will take a break, but [I want to say something] before the break, since it’s in my head. We will talk a little bit more about mind, but then we will explore phenomena a bit. I think the mind vipassana is good enough for now. But I just want to introduce you to the mindfulness of phenomena a little bit. It’s very vast. I’ll try to give you some ideas about what [is meant by mindfulness of] phenomena.

Let’s listen to the sound, just any sound.

[DJKR sits in silence for 10 seconds]

I think most probably you have heard the air conditioner humming. So, you are a human. And you are a human who went to school where you were introduced to some strange machine which blows cold air. And that’s why the moment you hear this [sound], the phenomenon of “air conditioner” [arises for you].[DJKR picks up a Ferrero Rocher chocolate in its plastic wrapper and scrunches it to make a rustling sound]. Plastic. This is phenomena. Now we are talking about phenomena. It is basically a game of subject and object. Gosh, it’s so vicious. So vicious. Just imagine, let’s say you’re a cat. Do you think the air conditioner is an air conditioner [for you]?

Phenomena.

Let’s go for a toilet break, and I think we will be driven by the phenomena of gents and ladies.

[END OF TALK 8]


Talk 9

Q & A

[Q]: The first question is [if I am] observing body and feeling, if I simultaneously play music or cooking, is it okay? Will it distract my observation?

[DJKR]: It depends on your aptitude23Ed. DJKR said “It depends on how you are inept”. This has been changed.. It depends on how [much] you are used to it. You can ride two horses together simultaneously if you’re good at it.


[Q]: If we can attain the truth by just observing, what is the point or what is the importance of a guru? And how can we determine the validity of their teachings?

[DJKR]: In the standard vipassana situation, no need. Guru is useless. You can have a coach. You can get some teachings from somebody. Guru is tantric wisdom. Guru is tantric wisdom of the embodiment of vipassana. That’s all I can say. Vipassana is for those who believe in “No pain, no gain”. Guru is for those who believe in “No pain, all gain”. But better not talk about this in the common world, because it’s almost criminal. “There is no free lunch”, that’s what the non-tantric [people] think. For the tantric [people], they will say, “What do you mean? Everything is a free lunch”. So let’s not bring that up now.


[Q]: How can I maintain a sense of clarity or sanity? I always feel that the observer is not here.

[DJKR]: Observe that feeling. Good. [It’s] getting sharper. Any kind of decision. Any kind of conclusion. Where is the observer? Just observe that. “Oh, the observer is this”. Observe that.


[Q]: How long should I do shamatha before vipassana?

[DJKR]: Yes, it’s good to always do shamatha. And by the way, just for the audience here, and for those who don’t know what shamatha is, it is a really good technique to train your mind. Well, actually you have already done it a little bit when you were concentrating on the breathing, for instance. [You can focus on] breathing, or choose an object and try to keep your mind there. Usually we choose an object. It could be the breath in and out. It could be a stone. Or it could be a statue of a Buddha in front of you.

You just focus there. Every time your mind is out [i.e. every time you lose your focus on the object and become distracted] you go back. And then you will realize your mind is never here. It is everywhere. But that’s good. This means you are now beginning to realize how the mind functions. It’s sort of a trick. It’s a trick because we already know that you’ll be distracted. It’s impossible. For example, “Oh okay concentrate on your door knob for five minutes”. It’s impossible, especially in the beginning. It’s impossible. But we know that.

How can we even think that Buddhists would give you an award for being able to concentrate on a door knob for five minutes? That’s ridiculous. Buddhists are more interested in you knowing that your mind is distracted all the time.


[Q]: How can blind people who have never seen the world practice vipassana?

[DJKR]: Oh, it’s very easy. First of all, for those who believe in closing eyes, they don’t even have to close their eyes. And I’m hoping that they have body and feelings and mind. Surely they have that.


[Q]: Speaking of mind, Rinpoche is your mind somehow shared or joined with mine, especially in the context of tantra?

[DJKR]: Maybe we will talk some another time about the tantra stuff.


[Q]: Guru Rinpoche said you may temporarily possess the view, but in order to sustain it, you must stay in mountain hermitages. A wholesome dwelling place may indeed cause your view to go astray. So, how should we do this as a layperson [who] has to live with others?

[DJKR]: You can always create a good boundary. When I went to Japan, I went to a Zen temple to actually do some Zen practice. Zazen. It was a small temple. And they said that once the session is on [i.e. once it was in progress], you can’t cross the boundary. [This tradition of a boundary is] coming from places like India.

For me, the phenomenon of boundary means [something] like a big gate, some sort of visible gate or something like that. So, I was searching everywhere [for some sort of physical boundary]. Where is this boundary? Then later I found two stones, and they put a stick on it. That’s it. But it works. You know, it really works. I feel there are so many [things] like this in the ancient Asian culture, like the Japanese culture.

Maybe we are talking too much rubbish here. But for example, Japanese houses always have one wall, I forgot the name24Ed.: DJKR may be referring to the tokonoma (Japanese: 床の間) or simply toko (床), which is a recessed space in a Japanese-style reception room in which items for artistic appreciation are displayed, such as calligraphic or pictorial scrolls or an ikebana flower arrangement – see wikipedia.. They hang something, and then they don’t put anything [else] there. I’m really bad, I am like a bear when I go to Japan. I always end up putting my socks there. But this place is kept so clean and neat. Things like this.

We could create that kind of boundary. That’s what a shrine is, basically. There are a lot of descriptions of those kinds of [things]. If you really want to [learn more], there are many descriptions. But mainly [creating a boundary is about] your attitude. Really, you can actually create [this].

Okay, now I’m probably a bit like a tantrika, because of my influence. You can decide that Shilin25Shilin District (Chinese: 士林區; pinyin: shì línqū) is a district of Taipei which is home to a large foreign population and also the Shilin Night Market (Chinese: 士林夜市; pinyin: Shìlín Yèshì), which is often considered to be the largest and most famous night market in Taiwan – see wikipedia. train station is a holy place. [You can decide] “Every Wednesday I will go there. And I will sit on the bench for five minutes and observe my body”. And then go back [to] wherever you are staying. Next time you are on the way to somewhere and you see Shilin from the distance, you might even do this [DJKR holds his hands together in the Anjali prayer mudra].

These are all skillful means. You can do that. Yes, sometimes you should do your meditation with yoga pants. Fluffy dresses. Sometimes you should really [dress up when you meditate]. You know, hair do, shave and all the aftershave if you are a man. What do you call it, that suit with a crow-tail? Tuxedo. Do that. Actually, I will relate that to the [mindfulness of] phenomena. What does [wearing a] tuxedo do to you? If you are one of those westernized people who think that a tuxedo is a big deal, tuxedo makes you feel that this is an important occasion. See? Phenomena. [We are] ruled by phenomena. For many [people], a tuxedo is just nothing.


[Q]: Can vipassana help people with depression? Also, how can we use vipassana to help younger adolescents with their problems?

[DJKR]: Definitely, but I would not aim for that. Aim higher. Aim to see the truth. Who cares if you are depressed or not? Go for the truth. Along the way you may collect a “no depression” situation. And good sleep, good leadership, good management, all of that. [But] don’t settle for it. Go to the truth.


[Q]: The observer and the observer of the observer. Is it the same mind that is doing these two things? Both [kinds of] awareness?

[DJKR]: Yes.


That’s it. Okay. We will again do some sitting. Let’s not do the phenomena. This time I will let you choose. You can do the body, feelings, or body and feelings together. Or you can also do mind. Or you can do all three

Okay, let’s start.

[10 minutes meditation]

Mindfulness of phenomena

We will talk a little bit about phenomena now. This is going to be very intellectual and theoretical. I will just give you some information probably. Going back to “Who are you?” It’s your body, that’s a very obvious one. And feelings, not as obvious as the body, but very strong. Probably stronger than the body. And then mind. Definitely not as visible as body, of course. Not even [as visible] as feelings. But it is something that if you don’t have, you don’t even need to do vipassana. So it’s very essential.

Now the fourth one. Wow, that is like all-pervasive. And it’s actually quite, for the lack of words, [it’s really] vicious.

You are here. Some of you [have been] here since yesterday. Yes, because you have a body, because you have feelings, and because you have mind. But actually it’s also because [you are asking] “What is this vipassana?” It’s a phenomenon, you see. For many of you, it’s an object of curiosity. And curiosity is again driven by phenomena. You know a little bit [about it], but you also don’t know the complete picture, and you have a little bit of interest.

For some of you, probably because of your upbringing [or] because of whatever books you have read or friends you have associated with recently, then you [might] have a sudden “Oh, vipassana. I want enlightenment. I want to get rid of samsara. I want to reach nirvana.” All these are phenomena.

Wow, phenomena. I think we talked about the sound earlier. It also depends on [your individual differences]. Individually, you have different phenomena for the same sound. Kris was saying that this sound is plastic [DJKR picks up a Ferrero Rocher chocolate in its plastic wrapper and scrunches it to make a rustling sound], but for his dog, it’s food.

Then form. This is a big phenomenon, right? Body.

By the way, one thing. Generally phenomena are always vague. This is actually what Buddhists call relative truth. Just think about form now. Triangle. Square. Highways. Street lamps.

[DJKR sits for 10 seconds]

But they play an important part in your existence. You validate yourself by considering yourself as a normal healthy human being when you go out there and look at a street lamp and think “Wow, this is a street lamp”. But you don’t think “Oh wow, what a nice cucumber”. And then smell. Sandalwood. What what comes in your mind? Sandalwood. Lavender. That terrible tofu in the Taipei train station. What is it?26Stinky tofu (Chinese: 臭豆腐; pinyin: chòu dòufu) is a Chinese form of fermented tofu that has a strong odor. It is usually sold at night markets or roadside stands as a snack. The Shenkeng Old Street in New Taipei’s Shenkeng District is known for having an entire boulevard dedicated to eateries serving Taiwanese varieties of stinky tofu – see wikipedia. I know it’s bringing saliva in some of your mouths right away.

It’s easier to understand this. But then there are some really vague ones. Things like “Oh, she is so beautiful”. We never know what that really means, you understand? It’s very vague. Or things like “A long time ago” or “countless”. But it works, you know? “Oh, there are countless people there”, it works. I’m talking to you, it’s so vague, but it works.

Okay, those things are kind of [seemingly unimportant]. Now let’s talk about some things that actually have a really big impact on you. Society. This is a big one. I think the best way of understanding it is through what is called “herd mentality”. A herd, like cattle or sheep, mammals, or a group of wild animals. They all go together. They all do the same thing. Herd mentality. It’s a very big one, this one. There’s a big pressure if you are not a member of the herd society. You will be cast out. You will not be invited to the next birthday party.

But then, there are some people who are “Okay, I don’t want to be in the herd”. [They have that] mentality. Rebellious. That’s not necessarily better. [Being a] revolutionary is just a burden. It’s just a phenomenon. Lots of us are like sheep going together to Warner Village. We wait for the ice cream. And whatever we do [we do it with herd mentality].

We go to Calvin Klein. We have learned to say “Wow”. And the other one says, “Oh, yes”. And then maybe there’s somebody who adopts a rebel mentality, “Calvin Klein is so boring. I’m going to wear qipao or something like that”. Is that a rebellious thing? Maybe not, right? Whatever it is. But that’s just a phenomenon [i.e. both the herd mentality and the rebelliousness are equally just phenomena].

And this is a big part of you, by the way. This is how we are. This is a big part of you. Actually this part of the vipassana is vast. Morality. Wow. So big, so big. If you read New York Times articles about Trump, 99.99% [of them] are driven by the phenomena of morality. Coming from one of the most immoral countries. This is how phenomena drive us.

I have to say this, this is where Buddhism excels. This is where Buddhism really says Buddhadharma is like a placebo. That the path is just a trick. And then we have [two kinds of phenomena]. Well anyway, the classic Buddhist terms are “compounded phenomena” and “uncompounded phenomena”. Compounded means “put together”. Actually, Buddhists were really good with philology27Philology = the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics – see wikipedia.. They were really good at this.

Four wooden legs, one plank, and things put here [on top]. The phenomenon of table arises. From the Buddhist point of view morality is just [like] that. Ethics are just like that. Human rights, freedom, all of these are basically compounded [phenomena]. Some things are put together and it appears to be like something, but actually it’s not there. But we get so crazy with this. “This is made in India. It can’t be good”. Hello my dear friends in India. “Oh, this is made in Italy. It has to be good”. Stuff like that.

Phenomena. Italian furniture is considered good. Japanese toast. This is me by the way, my own individual phenomena. I just get fascinated by Japanese toast28Japanese toast is made from shokupan (Japanese: 食パン,  literally “eating bread”), a white and pillowy square-shaped bread which is the most ubiquitous type of bread in Japan – see shokupan.. I’ve been to so many toast shops. I’ve even learned the name in Japanese. When they say “toast” it’s “tosuto” by the way29tosuto (Japanese: トースト) = toast – see tosuto.. I just [get fascinated by] the crispness, the way they cut it in the middle, and [how] they put a big [piece of] butter, just everything. It’s just amazing. Stuff like that, right? I’m just trying to give you a glimpse of what we mean by phenomena.[Phenomena] are vicious, I’m telling you. They are really vicious if you are caught by them and if you don’t know the truth. The truth is they are all zok30zok (Tibetan: ཟོག་; Wylie: zog) = deception, fraud, deceit, falsehood – see zok., in Tibetan we call it zokdzün31zokdzün (Tibetan: ཟོག་རྫུན་; Wylie: zog rdzun) = to “say what is not is” – see zokdzün. meaning they’re all like a scarecrow. From a distance you think it looks like a human. But there’s no human.

I have to tell you this. There is a really nice cartoon I saw this time. Two crows are talking to each other. There’s a scarecrow in a field. And one crow says [to the other], “Be careful there’s a human”. The other one says, “No, it’s not texting”. I thought that was so good. Anyway, [phenomena are] all like a scarecrow. The classic [way of expressing this] is that it is “a transitory collection put together and labelled as a specific phenomenon”. It’s all like a drawing a circle in the water.

Phenomena includes everything. [From] form and feelings, all the way to the idea of enlightenment. By the way, the fourth one is more exclusive Mahayana. It’s more the Mahayana vipassana. Wow. Nothing remains. Yes, I think “phantom” is a good word. Everything is just [like] a phantom32Phantom is one of the metaphors for illusion (Sanskrit: मायोपाम, IAST: māyopāma) that are found throughout the Prajñaparamita sutras and Madhyamaka teachings – see mayopama.. Phantasmagoria is [another] word they used.

Basically, it’s there but it’s not there. Together. It’s not like first it’s there, and then it became not there. [The] not being there started at the very time that it began to be there. That’s how it is. That’s what Buddhists think about all phenomena. So it’s not negation. Shunyata is not a negation.

This was just a very brief introduction to what we mean by phenomena. Okay, we will now again have a short break, and then we will have the last session. A very short session.

[END OF TALK 9]

Talk 10

Q & A

Okay, Just to tie up a few things, especially [regarding] what we call Buddhadharma or Buddhism. I’m sure you have heard concepts like the Four Noble Truths. Now, if you are doing these four mindfulness, this is in one way or another actually a practical way of relating to the Four Noble Truths.

Body: If you observe the body, you will end up knowing the First Noble Truth which is [that you should] understand dukkha.

Feelings: If you observe feelings, you will end up understanding the Second Noble Truth, which is the cause of dukkha. Because you will begin to realize it is the craving for satisfactory feelings that causes dukkha. No need to read many books. No need to do all these rituals. Just [by] observing feelings, you will come down to this.

Mind: If you do the third one, observing the mind, you will actualize the Third Noble Truth33Ed.: DJKR has inverted the order of the Third and Fourth Noble Truths. The Third Noble Truth is nirodha (cessation), and the Fourth Noble Truth is magga (path) – see 4 Noble Truths., which is the path to the cessation of the suffering (dukkha). Because when you realize there is no truly existing self, then you will realize that is the path to release ourselves from suffering.

Phenomena: And then by doing the fourth one, the observation of phenomena, then you will actualize the Fourth Noble Truth, nirodha, the cessation of suffering (dukkha). Because you will realize that defilements are removable. They are temporary. Anyway [all phenomena are] just a transitory collection, even the defilements.

Again. In the Mahayana we talk about four seals. All compounded things are impermanent. All emotions are pain or suffering. There’s nothing that [has a] truly existing nature. Nirvana is beyond extremes. These four seals will be on actualized by doing the four [establishments of] mindfulness. They are related.

I just needed to tell you this because really [when it comes to] vipassana, the four [establishments of] mindfulness, I just don’t want this vipassana to end becoming just one [more] meagre self-help techniques. Vipassana is really [the] quest for truth. Very raw, mundane, simple truth. There are no traces of superstition here.

Well, that’s about it, as far as the introduction of vipassana is concerned. Please I encourage you, those who wish to go to nine day vipassana courses, by all means to do so. Even just nine days of observing your breath in and out will do wonders.

So much is necessary. It’s high time we think internally [Ed.: i.e. that we pay attention to our inner lives].

Okay, let’s forget phenomena. [That’s] too big for us. But your body is important. Your feelings are very important. And [so is] your mind. And all we are asking you [to do] is to just observe. No subtraction, no addition. Just watch. And not even coming to any kind of specific conclusion.

This is something worthy to do for an individual. And I think this is also good for the world. For ecology, for world peace. And yes, I think in one way we are becoming very materialistic. But on the other hand, we are also pushed to face some of this reality. So let’s take a chance.

Buddha said “You are your own master. No one can be your master”34This is one of the most famous Buddhist quotations, verse 160 from Chapter 12 of the Dhammapada, Dhp. XII “Atta-vaggo: The Self”. It is more traditionally translated as “One is one’s own refuge. What other refuge can there be?” For commentary and additional translations see Quotes: You are your own refuge.. So then, how do you master yourself? Observe the four things that are you. Just observe, nothing else. No special diet, no special penance, nothing. You have to get used to this observing.

And, as someone asked here, and I think this is relevant, we can do our vipassana just to discover ourselves. That’s one thing. But probably we can do this better by assigning oneself a bigger task. By telling oneself that “I will do this discovery of myself for the benefit of all beings”. That is important, [to] have that mentality, to begin with that mentality. Because that mentality is not cherishing yourself. It is actually placing others [as] more important than you. Then [if you have] bad sleep? So what? Stressful life? So what? As long as I discover myself for the others, that’s the primary [motivation].

Okay, so that’s the end. For the international audience, I will say good night. Good morning. Good afternoon. And as a celebration, we will just listen to some weird songs for a few minutes and then we will go.

[END OF TALK 10]


Note: to read footnotes please click on superscript numbers

Transcribed and edited by Alex Li Trisoglio