Importance of equanimity towards subtle as well as gross
sensations--continuity of awareness-- the five friends--faith,
effort, awareness, concentration, wisdom .

Seven days are over;you have three more left to work. Make
best use of these days by working hard and continuously,
understanding how you ought to practise.

There are two aspects of the technique: awareness and
equanimity. One must develop awareness of all the sensations
that occur within the framework of the body, and at the same
time one must remain equanimous towards them. By
remaining equanimous, naturally one will find, sooner or
later, that sensations start to appear in areas that were blind,
and that the gross, solidified, unpleasant sensations begin to
dissolve into subtle vibrations. One starts to experience a very
pleasant flow of energy throughout the body.

The danger when this situation arises is that one takes this
pleasurable sensory experience as the goal towards which
one was working. In fact, the purpose of practising Vipassana
is not to experience a certain type of sensation, but rather to
develop equanimity towards all sensations.Sensations keep
changing, whether gross or subtle. One's progress on the
path can be measured only by the equanimity one develops
towards every sensation.

Even after one has experienced a free flow of subtle vibrations
throughout the body, it is quite possible that again a gross
sensation may arise somewhere, or a blind area. These are
signs not of regression but of progress. As one develops in
awareness and equanimity, naturally one penetrates deeper
into the unconscious mind, and uncovers impurities hidden
there. So long as these deep-lying complexes remain in the
unconscious, they are bound to bring misery in the future. The
only way to eliminate them is to allow them to come up to the
surface of the mind and pass away. When such deep-
rooted sankhara arise on the surface, many of them may be
accompanied by unpleasant, gross sensations or blind areas
within the body. If one continues to observe without reacting,
the sensation passes away, and with it the sankhara of which
it is a manifestation.

Every sensation, whether gross or subtle has the same
characteristic of impermanence. A gross sensation arises,
seems to stay for some time, but sooner or later passes away.
A subtle sensation arises and passes away with great rapidity,
but still it has the same characteristic. No sensation is
eternal. Therefore one should not have preferences or
prejudices towards any sensation. When a gross, unpleasant
sensation arises, one observes it without becoming
depressed. When a subtle, pleasant sensation arises, one
accepts it, even enjoys it, without becoming elated or
attached to it. In every case one understands the
impermanent nature of all sensations; then one can smile
when they arise and when they pass away.

Equanimity must be practised at the level of bodily sensation in
order to make a real change in one's life. At every moment
sensations are arising within the body. Usually the conscious
mind is unaware of them, but the unconscious mind feels the
sensations and reacts to them with craving or aversion. If the
mind is trained to become fully conscious of all that occurs
within the physical structure and at the same time to maintain
equanimity, then the old habit of blind reaction is broken. One
learns how to remain equanimous in every situation, and can
therefore live a balanced, happy life.

You are here to experience the truth about yourself, how this
phenomenon works, how it generates misery. There are two
aspects of the human phenomenon: material and mental, body
and mind. One must observe both. But one cannot actually
experience the body without awareness of what arises in the
body, that is, sensation. Similarly one cannot observe mind
separately from what arises in the mind, that is, thought. As
one goes deeper in experiencing the truth of mind and matter,
it becomes clear that whatever arises in the mind is also
accompanied by a physical sensation. Sensation is of central
importance for experiencing the reality of both body and mind,
and it is the point at which reactions start. In order to observe
the truth of oneself and to stop generating mental defilements,
one must be aware of sensations and remain equanimous as
continuously as possible.

For this reason, in the remaining days of the course, you must
work continuously with closed eyes during meditation hours;
but during recess periods as well, you must try to maintain
awareness and equanimity at the level of sensations. Perform
whatever action you must do in the usual way, whether
walking, eating, drinking, or bathing; don't slow the action
down. Be aware of the physical movement of the body, and at
the same time of the sensations, if possible in the part of the
body that is in motion, or else in any other part. Remain aware
and equanimous.

Similarly, when you go to bed at night, close your eyes and feel
sensation anywhere within the body. If you fall asleep with this
awareness, naturally as soon as you wake up in the morning,
you will be aware of sensation. Perhaps you may not sleep
soundly, or you may even remain fully awake throughout the
night. This is wonderful, provided you stay lying in bed and
maintain awareness and equanimity. The body will receive the
rest it needs, and there is no greater rest for the mind than to
remain aware and equanimous. However, if you start worrying
that you are developing insomnia, then you will generate
tensions, and will feel, exhausted the next day. Nor
should you forcefully try to stay awake, remaining in a seated
posture all night; that would be going to an extreme. If sleep
comes, very good; sleep. If sleep does not come, allow the
body to rest by remaining in a recumbent position, and allow
the mind to rest by remaining aware and equanimous.

The Buddha said, "When a meditator practises ardently,
without neglecting for a moment awareness and equanimity
towards sensations, such a person develops real wisdom,
understanding sensations completely." The meditator
understands how one who lacks wisdom reacts to sensations,
and multiplies his misery. The meditator also understands how
one who bears in mind the impermanent nature of all
sensations will not react to them, and will come out
of misery. The Buddha continued, "With this thorough
understanding, the meditator is able to experience the stage
beyond mind and matter--nibbana." One cannot
experience nibbana until the heaviest sankhara have been
eliminated--those that would lead to a future life in a lower
form of existence where misery would predominate.
Fortunately, when one starts to practise Vipassana, it is these
very sankhara that arise first. One remains equanimous and
they pass away. When all such sankhara have been
eradicated, then naturally one experiences nibbana for
the first time. Having experienced it, one is totally changed,
and can no longer perform any action that would lead to a
future life in a lower form of existence. Gradually one proceeds
to higher stages, until all the sankhara have been eradicated
that would have led to future life anywhere within the
conditioned world. Such a person is fully liberated and
therefore, the Buddha concluded, "Comprehending the entire
truth of mind and matter, when he dies he passes beyond the
conditioned world, because he has understood sensations
perfectly".

You have made a small beginning on this path by practising to
develop awareness of sensations throughout the body. If you
are careful not to react to them, you will find that layer by
layer, the old sankhara are eradicated. By remaining
equanimous towards gross, unpleasant sensations,you will
proceed to experience subtler, pleasant sensations. If
you continue to maintain equanimity, sooner or later you will
reach the stage described by the Buddha, in which
throughout the physical structure, the meditator experiences
nothing but arising and passing away. All the gross, solidified
sensations have dissolved; throughout the body there is
nothing but subtle vibrations. Naturally this stage is very
blissful, but still it is not the final goal, and one must not
become attached to it. Some of the gross impurities have been
eradicated, but others still remain in the depth of the mind. If
one continues to observe equanimously, one after another all
the deeper sankhara will arise and pass away. When they are
all eradicated, then one experiences the "deathless"--
something beyond mind and matter, where nothing arises, and
therefore nothing passes away--the indescribable stage of
nibbana.

Everyone who works properly to develop awareness and
equanimity will certainly reach this stage; but each person
must work himself or herself.

Just as there are five enemies, five hindrances which block
your progress on the path, there are also five friends, five
wholesome faculties of the mind, which help and support you.
If you keep these friends strong and pure, no enemy can
overpower you.

The first friend is faith, devotion, confidence. Without
confidence one cannot work, being always agitated by doubts
and skepticism. However, if faith is blind, it is a great enemy. It
becomes blind if one loses discriminatory intelligence, the
proper understanding of what right devotion is. One may have
faith in any deity or saintly person, but if it is right faith, with
proper understanding, one will remember the good qualities of
that person, and will gain inspiration to develop those qualities
in oneself. Such devotion is meaningful and helpful. But if one
does not try to develop the qualities of the person towards
whom one has devotion, it is blind faith, which is very harmful.

For example, when one takes refuge in the Buddha, one must
remember the qualities of a Buddha, and must work to develop
those qualities in oneself. The essential quality of a Buddha is
enlightenment; therefore the refuge is actually in
enlightenment, the enlightenment that one develops in
oneself. One pays respect to anyone who has reached the
stage of full enlightenment;that is, one gives importance to the
quality wherever it may manifest, without being bound to a
particular sect or person. And one honours the Buddha not by
rituals or ceremonies, but by practising his teachings, by
walking on the path of Dhamma from the first step,sila, to
samadhi, to panna, to nibbana, liberation.

Anyone who is a Buddha must have the following qualities. He
has eradicated all craving,aversion, ignorance. He has
conquered all his enemies, the enemies within, that is, the
mental impurities. He is perfect not only in the theory of
Dhamma, but also in its application. What he practises, he
preaches, and what he preaches, he practises; there is no
gap between his words and his deeds. Every step that he
takes is a right step, leading in the right direction. He has
learned everything about the entire universe, by exploring the
universe within. He is overflowing with love, compassion,
sympathetic joy for others, and keeps helping those who are
going astray to find the right path. He is full of perfect
equanimity. If one works to develop these qualities in
oneself in order to reach the final goal, there is meaning in
one's taking refuge in the Buddha.

Similarly, taking refuge in Dhamma has nothing to do with
sectarianism; it is not a matter of being converted from one
organized religion to another. Taking refuge in Dhamma is
actually taking refuge in morality, in mastery over one's own
mind, in wisdom. For a teaching to be Dhamma, it must also
have certain qualities. Firstly it must be clearly explained, so
that anyone can understand it. It is to be seen for oneself
before one's very eyes, the reality experienced by oneself, not
an imagination. Even the truth of nibbana is not to be accepted
until one has experienced it. Dhamma must give beneficial
results here and now, not merely promise benefits to be
enjoyed in future. It has the quality of "come-and-see";
see for yourself, try it yourself, don't accept it blindly. And
once one has tried it and experienced its benefits, one cannot
resist encouraging and helping others to come and see as
well. Every step on the path leads nearer to the final goal; no
effort goes to waste. Dhamma is beneficial at the beginning, in
the middle, at the end. Finally, any person of average
intelligence, of whatever background, can practise it and
experience the benefits. With this understanding of what it
actually is, if one takes refuge in Dhamma and starts
practising it, one's devotion has real meaning.

In the same way, taking refuge in Sangha is not a matter of
getting involved with a sect. Anyone who has walked on the
path of sila,samadhi, and panna and who has reached at least
the first stage of liberation, who has become a saintly person,
is a Sangha. He or she may be anyone, of any appearance,
any colour, any background; it makes no difference. If one is
inspired by seeing such a person and works to reach the same
goal oneself, then one's taking refuge in Sangha is
meaningful, right devotion.

Another friend is effort. Like faith, it must not be blind.
Otherwise there is the danger that one will work in a wrong
way, and will not get the expected results. Effort must be
accompanied by proper understanding of how one is to work;
then it will be very helpful for one's progress.

Another friend is awareness. Awareness can only be of the
reality of the present moment. One cannot be aware of the
past, one can only remember it. One cannot be aware of the
future, one can only have aspirations for or fears of the future.
One must develop the ability to be aware of the reality that
manifests within oneself at the present moment.

The next friend is concentration, sustaining the awareness of
reality from moment to moment, without any break. It must be
free from all imaginations, all cravings, all aversion; only then
is it right concentration.

And the fifth friend is wisdom-not the wisdom acquired by
listening to discourses, or reading books, or intellectual
analysis; one must develop wisdom within oneself at the
experiential level,because only by this experiential wisdom can
one become liberated. And to be real wisdom, it must be based
on physical sensations: one remains equanimous towards
sensations,understanding their impermanent nature. This is
equanimity at the depths of the mind, which will enable one to
remain balanced amid all the vicissitudes of daily life.

All the practice of Vipassana has as its purpose to enable one
to live in a proper way, fulfilling one's worldly responsibilities
while maintaining a balanced mind, remaining peaceful and
happy within oneself and making others peaceful and happy. If
you keep the five friends strong, you will become perfect in the
art of living, and will lead a happy, healthy, good life.

Progress on the path of Dhamma, for the good and benefit of
yourself and of so many.

May all suffering beings come into contact with pure Dhamma,
to emerge from their misery and to enjoy real happiness.

May all beings be happy!


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