Awareness of Thoughts
- Dear Venerable Sayadaws,
I read recently in a sutta the Buddha talking about
knowing feelings, perceptions, and thoughts as they
arise, persist, and pass away. When I meditate, I can
be aware of some feelings as they arise in my body,
and as they pass away. But with thoughts, it's a
different story. My experience is that thoughts only
arise when mindfulness is gone. When I become mindful
again, and realize I "was" thinking, the thought
series is cut, stopped from continuing because of
mindfulness. So I can only be aware of thoughts as
something that "happened", but not as something that
"is" happening. It seems that mindfulness and thoughts
cannot co-exist at the same time.
So my question is:
Is it really possible to be aware of thoughts as they
arise and pass away the same way we can be aware of an
ichy sensation as it arises and passes away? I do not
want to challenge any Buddhist teaching (my faith in
Buddha's teachings is very strong), but simply clarify
my experience and ignorance.
Homage to the Triple Gem,
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- Dear Benoit
Thoughts are the quickest and subtlest meditation objects, as opposed to the gross ones such as physical (breathing and so on) and feeling. Pl. keep your
mind open as to when and how you experience thoughts. It could be immediate
past or present. Surely, at this time it is hard to conclude from your
experiences and I do not see an urgent need to do so. Observe the thinking mind
if the mind wants to have an opinion on the issue.
There is nothing wrong knowing the nature of thoughts that have passed. Reflection indeed means using the developed mind to revisit the past thoughts.
In message <20020317154502.60202.qmail@...> SanghaOnline@yahoogroups.com writes:
> Dear Venerable Sayadaws,
> I read recently in a sutta the Buddha talking about
> knowing feelings, perceptions, and thoughts as they
> arise, persist, and pass away. When I meditate, I can
> be aware of some feelings as they arise in my body,
> and as they pass away. But with thoughts, it's a
> different story. My experience is that thoughts only
> arise when mindfulness is gone. When I become mindful
> again, and realize I "was" thinking, the thought
> series is cut, stopped from continuing because of
> mindfulness. So I can only be aware of thoughts as
> something that "happened", but not as something that
> "is" happening. It seems that mindfulness and thoughts
> cannot co-exist at the same time.
> So my question is:
> Is it really possible to be aware of thoughts as they
> arise and pass away the same way we can be aware of an
> ichy sensation as it arises and passes away? I do not
> want to challenge any Buddhist teaching (my faith in
> Buddha's teachings is very strong), but simply clarify
> my experience and ignorance.
> Thank you,
> Homage to the Triple Gem,
- Dear Benoit
I am glad to answer your good question and thank you for asking.
Awareness is presence of mind so that you can be aware of what is happening
right now in you body and mind that's what we all already understood.
To be aware of the body sensation is very clear and no confusion because you can pay attention toward the object directly as it arises and passes away.That is what we call face to face observation.
But to be aware of the mental state (thoughts) is sometimes complicated because mind is the fastest thing in the world. Actually it is happening one after another.
For example, when you are doing something with awareness, thoughts may arise automatically and you know that your awareness is getting weak by the interference of the thoughts, planning and projecting. It seems that awareness and thoughts co-exist at the same time but it is not.
At that time you have to switch your awareness to that thought without any delay.
Nothing should come between the presently arising thoughts and the observing mind.
The more you have observing power the more you realize that awareness is like sinking or plunging into the thoughts.
Object of the past and future cannot be known correctly, and if the attention cannot remain with objects as they arise, it is no longer dwelling in the reality or Vipassana Practice.
The way you realize that I "was" thinking is a kind of reflecting to revisit the past thoughts as Ven. Dhammasami said.
That is why it is possible to be aware of thoughts as they arise, but awareness must be sharp, fast and immediate so that you are aware of it as soon as the object arises. Ven. Dhammasami's answer is quite good and acceptable to you, I think.
May you be able to improve the Insight knowledge.
Dhammodaya Myanmar Vihara
(Burmese Buddhist Monastery)
PO Box 22606 Southgate PMBDEAR BENOIT
- Dear Betnoit,
I hope you get a clearer picture by now that both Ven. Khemissara and myself
shared some of our own expereinces with you.
When it comes to thoughts, an English word "train of thoughts" convinces us
something. The word indicates that thoughts arise in a process, much similar to
a train with many compartments. As an on-looker far away from the railway, we
are likely to see all separate compartments as one. This is because our
eye-sight is weak. The process of observing thoughts is not unlike an on-looker
watching a bullet train that passes by so quickly.
So it is hard for us to determine when and how thoughts arise before concentration is fully developed.
With the practice, you will come to see a certain pattern of thought. For
instance, if you have anxiety about your work, it is likely that thoughts
arising in your mind are related to your work. Anxiety causes thoughts to
occur in a certain pattern. Nevertheless, they may not appear to you that
way, but rather as fragmented ones that have hardly anything to do with each
other. So reality and appearance may differ at this stage. So when this happens
it is not advisable to form any opinion on how the mind works. Our task is to
watch and watch like some body who watches television without getting involved
in what he sees on the screen.
This practice of control and detachment will then help you see more and more
clearly how and when thoughts arise. The Suttas invite us to verify and we
must do it.
As Ven. Khemissara has pointed out thoughts in the past and future are not
hard to be known. But this is not to deny that the past and the future can become objects of thoughts (dhammarammana). Expereinces in the past and in the
future may become objects of present mental state. This is what reflection
(patissati/ paccavekkhana in Pali) means.
A simple way, to me, to reach the above mentioned stage is to use "noting
technique" that lables each tought as it arises. This technique has been taught
by two two famous meditation teachers in Burma, the late Mingun Sayadaw and his
illustrious pupil, the late Mahasi Sayadaw. There may be other ways,however,
to achieve the same result. Like Ven. Khemissara, I come from the Mahasi
tradition, and am familiar with the Mahasi teachings more than anything else.
Once we are able to see thoughts as occuring in a process, then it will be closer to see the nature of thoughts, how and when they arise. The ability to
see cause and effect in thought process may arise at this point. We can discuss
more of it then at that time.
For the moment, as to the question of when and how thoughts arise, much may
depends on individual experience, which again is determined by the state of
concentration. So long you keep your mind open, so long you try to free your
mind from pre-conceived ideas, it is to be expected that your mindfulness practice will proceed well.
- Dear Benoit
Thanks for your questions
According to Buddhism we must support our parents not
only physically but also
spiritually.The Buddha advised us to support our
parents to get higher spiritual stage. Chinese way of
supporting parents is partially what the Buddha
For your second question in Singalovada Sutta the
Parents also have five duties toward their children as
parents will reciprocate: they will restrain them from
evil, support them in doing good, teach them some
skill, find them a sutaible wife or husband, and in due
time, hand over his inheritance to them. Doing these
duties means they respect the children. Parents
respected since mother
avoided eating hot and sour food during pregnancy.Also they took care of
children since they didn't know what the child is male
or female.parental lovingkindness changed red blood to
white as milk.You should focus on what the M.O.T.H.E.R
means. These are how parents respected the children.
According to your question that parents mistreated to
children " is lack of parent's child development
education not by reverence. Parent's reverence and
respect toward children is 100 times the
children respect toward parents. There is nothing more
to say to mention to respect children because it
is very clear parents respected and revered children
with endless love (ananda metta). This is very clear
that even animals we can see. According to Buddhism
'whatever a couple enjoy sensual craving,parent is
parent. We can't say no father or mother. If we say it
is materiallism and wrong view.
Therefore,we should treat each other with five duties
of parents and five duties of children.
--- Benoit Santerre <benoit_santerre@...> wrote:
> Dear Venerable Sayadaws,__________________________________________________
> I have two questions regarding proper conduct
> parents. In his advice to lay people in Singalovada
> sutta, the Buddha says we must support our parents.
> Does that mean simply helping them when they need or
> give them money regularly no matter what the
> is? Chinese must give money regularly to parents
> when they live by themseleves with a husband or
> and children (i.e. no longer supported by parents).
> this what the Buddha meant?
> My second question is as follow. There seems to be a
> strong emphasis in Asia (and in Asian Buddhist
> discourse) on reverence towards one's parents. Very
> good! But what about reverence towards one's
> Given that children who suffer mistreatment by their
> parents (be it verbal or physical), which is quite
> common in our world, have a big chance to suffer a
> from this psychologically for the rest of their
> it should be very important that parents also
> and revere their children. Why is it not mentioned
> that reverence to children also lead to the deva
> world? Or that the view 'there is no children' is as
> much a wrong view as the view 'there is no mother
> father'? Children are born in the world because
> couples enjoy sensual craving. Don't they have a
> responsibility for this? As a psychiatric social
> worker student working also in family therapy, I see
> too much people suffering from parental
> and much less suffering from their children's
> mistreatment. Is it fair to say that discourses on
> parent-children relations lack a balanced
> My question is long but a simple exposition of how
> parents and children should treat each other
> to Dhamma would be very satisfying to me.
> Thank you,
> Highest reverence to the Noble triple Gem.
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- Dear Venerable Sayadaws,
In your opinion, can practicing martial arts (e.g.
kung-fu, kick-boxing) be a hindrance to one's
meditation practice/ walking the Noble Eightfold Path?
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