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  BY PHRA ACHARN THATE DESARANSI : WAT HIN MAAK PENG NONGKHAI, THAILAND.
  CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN PHRA ACHARN THATE DESARANSI AND PHRA BUNTA PASANNACITTO
R 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:

shotcut to question:

 QUESTION 1
Since Dhamma, Whether crude or refined, is always present in Each individual, why does one not see it?
 ANSWER 1
Dhamma 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 ).

The difficulty 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 Dhamma.

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 to see.


 QUESTION 2
Some people say, if there already is Dhamma within oneself, why take the trouble to practise it? Is his remark correct ?
 ANSWER 2

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.


 QUESTION 3
Concerning 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 ) ?
 ANSWER 3

The Teacher 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.

Whether the 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.

In pacifying 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.

Through meditation, we may say that giving, morality, and meditation are one in all and all in one.


 QUESTION 4
Theoretically, 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 correct ?
 ANSWER 4

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 (Upadana)


 QUESTION 5
Some 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 ?
 ANSWER 5

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 on death.

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 )

In practising 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 of saliva.



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