PHRA ACHARN THATE DESARANSI : WAT HIN MAAK PENG NONGKHAI, THAILAND.
| CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN PHRA
ACHARN THATE DESARANSI AND PHRA BUNTA PASANNACITTO
E S U M E : PHRA BUNTA PASANNACITTO
Native of the province of Maha Sarakham, he sojourned in many
places to earn a living. He had just barely enough knowledge
to read and write. Once he met a monk who practised meditation.
After some conversation with the monk, he was inspired with
faith. So he left the life of laity and entered monkhood under
the supervision of an Upajjhaya named Phra Thep bundit of Wat
Sri Muang, Nong Khai Province. That was at the age of forty-six.
He spent one Vassa season with the Upajjhaya. After that he
took leave of him and spent the following Vassa seasons under
the supervision of Phra Acharn Thate at Wat Hin Maak Peng in
the district of Sri Chiangmai.
He has attended to the
practice of meditation regularly. Upon some doubts pertaining
to the practice, he asked Phra Acharn the following questions:
Dhamma, Whether crude or refined, is always present in Each
individual, why does one not see it?
is difficult to see. It is present not only in individuals,
but also in everything. There are two kinds of Dhamma: the form
( Rupa Dhamma ) and the mental factors ( Nama Dhamma ).
in seeing lies in the fact that the heart-base is darkened
by defilements ( Kilesa ). Thus, The heart is incapabie either
of holding or withholding Dhamma for careful examination.
This means that the heart is restless.
It is not peaceful enough to be the basis for a consideration
of Dhamma. Another problem is that one's heart is prone to
wander off among external objects here and there. Even if
this may contribute to knowledge, it is knowledge on the theoretical
side sanctioned by pedantry. This is, by the way, not true
It is merely
book-learning and is ultimately not efficient. Not until Dhamma
becomes paccatam or personally perceived in oneself by oneself,
can one see its optimum valur, this is why it is difficult
people say, if there already is Dhamma within oneself, why take
the trouble to practise it? Is his remark correct ?
No. As I have
explained, Dhamma is within us all right, but we are not capable
of perceiving it. We may see it only on the surface, acknowledging
its form and abstraction through the eyes and imagination.
This is the kind of Dhamma that derives itself from the memory
of texts and dictates of provosts.
This is neither
seeing with genuiness nor with one's own insights. Therefore,
it is necessary that we train and prepare our heart for holding
the dhamma. As I have explained, if there is no place to hold
the Dhamma, the Dhamma cannot sit. Consequently, as much as
we wish to ponder upon the Dhamma, we cannot perceive it clearly.
Many times we see it not as it is. Dhamma is there all right,
but we are incapable of witnessing it.
This is why
we need to train our heart in a quiet place or with the help
of a teacher who knows, so that our heart is capable of holding
the Dhamma for consideration.
the three principles of giving ( Dana ), Morality ( Sila ),
and meditation ( Bhavana ). Is it possible to perceive them
one in all or all in one, once we have attained wisdom ( Panna
wishes to stress the importance of each principle, so he makes
the above classification and speaks of them separately. Now,
if a person practising meditation speaks only of the heart,
not of the external object, that is, if we speak of pacification
of the heart, then we may pick up the subject of meditation
and explain the other two principles through it.
Dhamma is crude or refined, it will be perceivable to a pacified
heart. External giving of material giving is one type. This
is to give away miserliness. However, observance of the moral
precepts is for pacifying the physical and the verbal. Meditation
is for pacifying the physical and the verbal. Meditation is
for pacifying the heart. If the heart be not at peace, you
may see things with the eyes, but it will not be as distinctly
as when you look at them with a quite heart.
the heart through meditation, we have to learn to give up
mental attachments. This is called Caga also meaning to give,
give away. Besides, in meditating, we learn to keep our body
and speech at peace. That is, we do not carry on any disturbance
through them. Here is already realization of the moral precepts.
we may say that giving, morality, and meditation are one in
all and all in one.
when we speak of morality ( Sila ) concentrated absorption (
Samadhi ) and wisdom ( Panna ), we put wisdom last. But, those
who practise meditation prefer putting wisdom first. Is this
This is similar
to what we have just been talking. The explanation is, when
we speak to the people at large, we start from the crude to
the refined. It is easier for them to understand. For those
who practise, the order is reversed. A heart perfectly at
peace can very well see that wisdom is the basis of morality.
Wisdom is there to discriminate right from wrong, good from
bad, and what to do from not to do. When wisdom grows, we
then know that we should abstain from doing ill.
This is how
we come to observe the precepts. Hence wisdom comes before
morality. The same is true with meditation. When we practise
meditation in order to arrive at a concentrated absorption
in a sense-object and a one-pointedness of the heart, we must
have wisdom, subtlety, and intelligence. We must cleanse our
heart all around. In other words, we must be mindful of the
senses by not letting them wander away in thoughts. We see
dangers in such wanderings, so we are likely to give them
up. In this way, we attain peace.
Now, let's look
at it the other way around. Normally speaking, wisdom is placed
last. In this case, wisdom is of the highest degree. It is
wisdom for the realization of truth. If we have observed no
precepts and attained not one-pointedness, wisdom cannot possibly
grow. Wisdom which is the basis of insight must be built upon
perfect observance of precepts and concentrated absorption
especially at the level of Appana-Samadhi. Once withdrawing
from the full concentration of Appana - Samadhi, insight will
occur. Hence wisdom is placed last of all. Some pragmatists,
who perceive that wisdom comes before morality and meditation,
may regard the other order as a mistake. Nevertheless, those
who have attained insight can see the grandiosity and subtlety
of the Teacher's explanation and will be able to perceive
the Truth of those varied explanations, since they correspond
to different levels of dhamma. Wisdom of the highest degree
is called Panna Vipassana. It will enable one to release attachments
say that mindfulness of the body ( Kayanusti ) is the development
of calm ( Samatha Bhavana) Whereas mindfulness of the arising
and falling is the development of insight Vipassana-Bhavana.
Is this correct ?
This is difficult
to say. One has to practise in order to understand it. Samatha
means calm. There is not just one way to reach it. The Buddha
does not make it obligatory that you have to use only such
and such a meditation method. You may use any of the methods,
whither it be a concentration on the word "Buddho,"
or "arahan," or "Samma Arahan," or a concentration
You may also
concentrate on your body. All are right. There is no objection
to any of them. The importance is whether or not the heart
is capable of arriving at one -pointedness. If it is capable
so, then ir is called Samatha. All of those varied ways may
lead to samatha. If the heart cannot yet achieve one-pointedness,
it may just be at the state of verbal repetition ( Parikamma-Bhavana
). I have explained that the one-pointedness refers to that
state in which the heart is detached from external objects
and has come to dwell on one particular object. This is the
highest possible state of Samatha. At this state, the heart
is charged with the fullest power. It will act automatically.
We cannot direct
it. It is capable of auto. Matically setting itself at, or
withdrawing itself to a appropriate state ( Bhumi ). This
takes place in the realm of Samatha.
As for Vipassana,
this means to comprehend truth as it truly is, so that one
is able to dispose of one's self-Attachment (Attanu-Ditthi).
If one is still unable to do so, one is not yet up to the
vipassana state. One may probably acquite defilements of comprehension
( Vipassanu - Kilesa )
Samatha and Vipassana, it's better not to burden yourself
with books, or you will become pedantic. Keep them away in
a cabinet. Let us train our heart so as to experience calm
and one-pointedness. Then if we wish, we may converse with
references to books. If we can do this, we can save a lot