by H.H. Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara
Supreme Patriarch of Thailand
(Venerable Suvaddhano Bhikkhu)
Characteristics of the Mind
I would like to explain a little more about
the nature of the mind; how difficult it is
to tame and control with its habitual jumping
and racing about. Even with mindfulness fixed
on a single object, it will continually buck
and pull away. Where does the mind jump to?
It struggles around among mental objects,
following after desires, wishes, attractions
and the obstacles (palibodha) which are
worries and anxieties. These external involvements
are those concerns which we think and conceive
about. Once they are caught up in the mind they
agitate as worries and anxieties. If they are
many and you are unable to throw them out, then
the mind can't be pacified. However, everyone
with true determination can expel them and
achieve a calm mind.
The Method of Examining the Mind
Mindfulness is essential for guarding the mind
right from the beginning. Any inattention, and
the mind will have darted away in a flash. The
mind must then be speedily led back inside if
mindfulness is to be recovered.
If one checks to see why the mind had darted away,
one may find the cause in something like the
sound of a car, of people walking past, or the
noise of something falling. The mind zips away
to that particular sound and then starts to roam
further afield. It may have wandered on through
many varied episodes before one realizes the fact
and is able to return it to one's determined point.
However, should another noise intervene, the mind
may then be off again --continuing on from one
thing to another in what might seem like a moment
even though it spans many different episodes.
Using mindfulness, always return the mind to
your chosen point and, carefully establishing
mindfulness, examine it there. The mind will
then be pacified and, when checked in any particular
episode, will usually not go off there again but
will rather follow some other affair instead.
This method must be repeated until the mind is
tamed and able to come to calm with contentment
(chanda), rapture (piti) and ease (pamojja). This
will give a taste of the first stages of calm and
samadhi, furthering your satisfaction in the
practice and facilitating the focusing and settling
of the mind in samadhi.