Importance of developing awareness and equanimity towards
sensations--the four elements and their relation to sensations--the four
causes of the arising of matter--the five hindrances: craving, aversion,
mental and physical sluggishness, agitation, doubt

Six days are over; you have four more left to work. In four days you can
eradicate some of the mental defilements, and grasp the technique in
order to make use of it throughout your life. If you work with proper
understanding and learn how to apply the technique in daily life, then
certainly it will be very beneficial for you. Therefore understand the
technique properly.

This is not a path of pessimism. Dhamma teaches us to accept the bitter
truth of suffering, but it also shows the way out of suffering. For this
reason it is a path of optimism, combined with realism, and also
"workism"--each person has to work to liberate himself or herself.

In a few words, the entire path was explained:

All sakhara are impermanent"
When one perceives this with true insight,
then one becomes detached from suffering;
this is the path of purification.

Here the word sankhara means not only mental reactions, but also the
results of these reactions. Every mental reaction is a seed which gives a
fruit, and everything that one experiences in life is a fruit, a result of one's
own actions, that is, one's sankhara, past or present. Hence the meaning
is, "Everything that arises, that becomes composed, will pass away, will
disintegrate". Merely accepting this reality emotionally, or out of devotion,
or intellectually, will not purify the mind. It must be accepted at the actual
level, by experiencing the process of arising and passing away within
oneself. If one experiences impermanence directly by observing one's
own physical sensations, then the understanding that develops is real
wisdom, one's own wisdom. And with this wisdom one becomes freed
from misery. Even if pain remains, one no longer suffers from it. Instead
one can smile at it, because one can observe it.

The old mental habit is to seek to push away painful sensations and to
pull in pleasurable ones. So long as one is involved in the game of pain-
and-pleasure, push-and-pull, the mind remains agitated, and one's
misery increases. But once one learns to observe objectively without
identifying with the sensations, then the process of purification starts, and
the old habit of blind reaction and of multiplying one's misery is gradually
weakened and broken. One must learn how to just observe.

This does not mean that by practicing Vipassana one becomes a
"vegetable", passively allowing others to do one harm. Rather, one
learns how to act instead of to react. Previously one lived a life of
reaction, and reaction is always negative. Now you are learning how to
live properly, to live a healthy life of real action. Whenever a difficult
situation arises in life, one who has learned to observe sensations will
not fall into blind reaction. Instead he will wait a few moments, remaining
aware of sensations and also equanimous, and then will make a
decision and choose a course of action. Such an action is certain to be
positive, because it proceeds from a balanced mind; it will be a creative
action, helpful to oneself and others.

Gradually, as one learns to observe the phenomenon of mind and matter
within, one comes out of reactions, because one comes out of
ignorance. The habit pattern of reaction is based on ignorance.
Someone who has never observed reality within does not know what is
happening deep inside, does not know how he reacts with craving or
aversion, generating tensions which make him miserable.

The difficulty is that mind is far more impermanent than matter. The
mental processes occur so rapidly that one cannot follow them unless
one has been trained to do so. Not knowing reality, one remains under
the delusion that one reacts to external objects such as visions, sounds,
tastes, etc. Apparently this is so, but someone who learns to observe
himself will find that at a subtler level the reality is different. The entire
external universe exists for a person only when he or she experiences it,
that is, when a sensory object comes into contact with one of the sense
doors. As soon as there is a contact, there will be a vibration, a
sensation. The perception gives a valuation to the sensation as good or
bad, based on one's past experiences and conditionings, past
sankhara. In accordance with this coloured valuation the sensation
becomes pleasant or unpleasant, and according to the type of sensation,
one starts reacting with liking or disliking, craving or aversion. Sensation
is the forgotten missing Iink between the external object and the reaction.
The entire process occurs so rapidly that one is unaware of it: by the time
a reaction reaches the conscious level, it has been repeated and
intensified trillions of times, and has become so strong that it can easily
overpower the mind.

Siddhattha Gotama gained enlightenment by discovering the root cause
of craving and aversion, and by eradicating them where they arise, at the
level of sensation. What he himself had done, he taught to others. He
was not unique in teaching that one should come out of craving and
aversion; even before him, this was taught in India. Neither is morality
unique to the teaching of the Buddha, nor the development of control of
one's mind. Similarly, wisdom at the intellectual, emotional, or devotional
levels also existed before the Buddha. The unique element in his
teaching lies elsewhere, in his identifying physical sensation as the
crucial point at which craving and aversion begin, and at which they must
be eliminated. Unless one deals with sensations, one will be working
only at a superficial level of the mind, while in the depths the old habit of
reaction will continue. By learning to be aware of all the sensations within
oneself and to remain equanimous towards them, one stops reactions
where they start: one comes out of misery.

This is not a dogma to be accepted on faith, nor a philosophy to be
accepted intellectually. You have to investigate yourself to discover the
truth. Accept it as true only when you experience it. Hearing about truth is
important, but it must lead to actual practice. All the teachings of the
Buddha must be practised and experienced for oneself so that one may
come out of misery.

The entire structure of the body, the Buddha explained, is composed of
subatomic particles-- kalapa--consisting of the four elements and their
subsidiary characteristics, joined together. In the world outside as well as
within, it is easy to see that some matter is solid--earth element;
some is liquid--water element; some is gaseous--air element; and in
every case, temperature is present--fire element. However, someone
who examines reality within himself will understand the four elements at a subtler level. The entire range of weight from heaviness to lightness, is the field of earth element. Fire element is the field of temperature, from extreme cold to extreme heat. Air element has to do with motion, from a seemingly stationary state to the greatest movement. Water element concerns the quality of cohesiveness, of
binding together. Particles arise with a predominance of one or more
elements; the others remain latent. In turn, a sensation manifests in
accordance with the quality of the element that is predominant in those
particles. If kalapa arise with a predominance of fire element, a
sensation occurs of heat or cold, and similarly for the other elements.
This is how all sensations arise within the physical structure. If one is
ignorant, one gives valuations and reacts to the sensations, generating
new misery for oneself. But if wisdom arises, one simply, understands
that subatomic particles are arising with a predominance of one or
another element, and that these are all impersonal, changing
phenomena, arising to pass away. With this understanding, one does not
lose the balance of one's mind when facing any sensation.

As one continues observing oneself, it becomes clear why kalapa arise:
they are produced by the input that one gives to the life flow, the flow of
matter and mind. The flow of matter requires material input, of which
there are two types: the food one eats and the atmosphere in which one
lives. The flow of mind requires mental input, which again is of two types:
either a present or a past sankhara. if one gives an input of anger at the
present moment, immediately mind influences matter, and kalapa will
start to arise with a predominance of fire element, causing one
to feel a sensation of heat. If the input is fear, the kalapa generated at
that time will have a predominance of air element, and one feels a
sensation of trembling; and so on. The second type of mental input is a
past sankhara. Every sankhara is a seed which gives a fruit, a result after
some time. Whatever sensation one experienced when planting the
seed, the same sensation will arise when the fruit of that sankhara comes
to the surface of the mind.

Of these four causes, one should not try to determine which is
responsible for the arising of a particular sensation. One should merely
accept whatever sensation occurs. The only effort should
be to observe without generating a new sankhara. If one does not give
the input of a new reaction to the mind, automatically an old reaction will
give its fruit, manifesting as sensation.

One observes, and it passes away. Again one does not react; therefore
another old sankhara must give its fruit. In this way, by remaining aware
and equanimous, one allows the old sankhara to arise and pass away,
one after another: one comes out of misery.The old habit of generating
new reactions must be eliminated, and it can only be done gradually, by
repeated practice, by continued work.

Of course there are hindrances, obstacles on the way: five strong
enemies which try to overpower you and stop your progress. The first two
enemies are craving and aversion. The purpose of practising Vipassana
is to eliminate these two basic mental defilements, yet they may arise
even while you meditate, and if they overwhelm the mind, the process of
purification stops. You may crave for subtle sensations, or even
for nibbana; it makes no difference. Craving is a fire that burns, no matter
what the fuel; it takes you in the opposite direction from liberation.
Similarly, you may start generating aversion towards the pain that you
experience, and again you are off the track.

Another enemy is laziness, drowsiness. All night you slept soundly, and
yet when you sit to meditate, you feel very sleepy. This sleepiness is
caused by your mental impurities, which would be driven out by the
practice of Vipassana, and which therefore try to stop you from
meditating. You must fight to prevent this enemy from overpowering you.
Breathe slightly hard, or else get up, sprinkle cold water on your eyes, or
walk a little, and then sit again.

Alternatively, you may feel great agitation, another way in which the
impurities try to stop you from practising Vipassana. All day you run here
and there, doing anything except meditation. Afterwards, you realize that
you have wasted time, and start crying and repenting. But on the path of
Dhamma there is no place for crying. If you make a mistake, then you
should accept it in front of an elder in whom you have confidence, and
resolve to be careful not to repeat the mistake in future.

Finally, a great enemy is doubt, either about the teacher, or about the
technique, or about one's ability to practise it. Blind acceptance is not
beneficial, but neither is endless unreasoning doubt. So long as you,
remain immersed in doubts, you cannot take even one step on the path.
If there is anything that is not clear to you, do not hesitate to come to your
guide. Discuss the matter within, and understand it properly. If you
practise as you are asked to, the results are bound to come.

The technique works, not by any magic or miracle, but by the law of
nature. Anyone who starts working in accordance with natural law is
bound to come out of misery; this is the greatest possible miracle.

Large numbers of people have experienced the benefits of this
technique, not only those who came to the Buddha himself, but also many
in later ages, and in the present age. If one practises properly, making
efforts to remain aware and equanimous, then layers of past impurities
are bound to rise to the surface of the mind, and to pass away. Dhamma
gives wonderful results here and now, provided one works. Therefore
work with full confidence and understanding. Make best use of this
opportunity in order to come out of all misery, and to enjoy real peace.

May all of you enjoy real happiness.
May all beings be happy!

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