Pure and Simple

Recommended Posts

Well, that is one of the most hard hitting books I've read in a long time.

Here are some highlights which I have chosen..



What can we do so that the mind doesn’t get distracted with its preoccupations or its nonsensical mental fabrications? We have to give the mind something to focus its awareness on, for if its awareness isn’t focused on one thing, it wanders around to know other things, other matters. This is why we practice focusing our awareness on the body, or on the breath, making the breath the post to which we tie our monkey—the mind. In other words, we use mindfulness to keep the mind focused on the breath. This is the first step in the practice. Training the mind to stay focused on the breath is something we have to do continuously, with each in-and-out breath, in every posture—sitting, standing, walking, lying down. No matter what you’re doing, stay focused on the breath. If you want, you can simply stay focused on nothing more than the sensation of the breath, without determining whether it’s long or short. Keep breathing normally. Don’t force the breath or hold the breath or sit with your body too tense. Sit straight and face comfortably straight ahead. If you’re going to turn to the left, make sure to be focused on the breath as you turn. If you turn to the right, stay focused on the breath as you turn. Whatever posture you use is up to you, but stay focused on the breath continuously. If your attention lapses, bring it back to knowing the breath again. Whatever you’re doing at any time, watch the breath with every in-and-out breath and you’ll be developing mindfulness and alertness—full-body self-awareness—at the same time you’re being aware of the breath. When you walk, you don’t have to focus on the steps of the feet. Focus on the breath and let the feet do the stepping on their own. Let each part of the body perform its function on its own. All you have to do is stay focused on the breath and you’ll have full-body awareness. Whether the eye is looking at sights or the ear is listening to sounds, stay focused on the breath. When you look at a sight, make sure that knowing the breath underlies the looking. When you listen to a sound, make sure that knowing the breath underlies the listening. The breath is a means for making the mind quiet, so you first have to train yourself with it. Don’t be in a hurry to get higher results. Train the mind to stay under the control of mindfulness continuously for days on end—to the point where the mind doesn’t let its attention lapse. It will come to stay more and more with the breath, focused on knowing the breath continuously, and then other things will stop on their own: Thinking stops, speaking stops. Whatever tasks you have to do, you can still do them while at the same time keeping track of the breath each and every moment. If there are any lapses, you come back to knowing the breath again. There’s nothing else you have to think about. Be aware of the breath at the same time you’re aware of the normalcy of the mind.




All it really takes is endurance—endurance and relinquishment, letting things go, seeing that they’re not us, not ours. This is a point you have to hammer at, over and over. When I say you have to endure, I mean you really have to endure. Don’t be willing to surrender. Craving is going to keep coming up and whispering—telling you to change things, to go after this pleasure or that—but don’t listen to it. You have to listen to the Buddha, who tells you to let go of craving. Otherwise, craving will plaster and paint things over; the mind will struggle and won’t be able to settle down. So you have to give it your all. Look at this hour as a special hour—special in that you’re using special endurance to keep watch on your own heart and mind.



And there’s not really much to it: simply arising, persisting, disbanding. Keep looking until this becomes plain—really, really plain—and everything disappears. All suppositions, all conventional formulations, all those aggregates and properties get swept away, leaving nothing but awareness pure and simple, not involved with anything at all—and there’s nothing you have to do to it. Simply stay still and watch, be aware, letting go with every moment.




When you keep watch in this way, you’re keeping watch on inconstancy, on change, as it actually occurs—because even the arising and disbanding changes. It’s not the same thing arising and disbanding all the time. First this sort of sensation arises and disbands, then that sort arises and disbands. If you keep watch on bare arising and disbanding like this, you’re sure to arrive at insight. But if you keep watch with labels—“That’s the sound of a cow,” “That’s the bark of a dog”—you won’t be watching the bare sensation of sound, the bare sensation of arising and disbanding. As soon as there’s labeling, thought-fabrications come along with it. Your senses of touch, sight, hearing, and so forth will continue their bare arising and disbanding, but you won’t know it. Instead, you’ll label everything—sights, sounds, etc.—and then there will be attachments, feelings of pleasure and displeasure, and you won’t know the truth.




One night I was sitting in meditation outside in the open air—my back straight as an arrow—firmly determined to make the mind quiet, but even after a long time it wouldn’t settle down. So I thought, “I’ve been working at this for many days now, and yet my mind won’t settle down at all. It’s time to stop being so determined and to simply be aware of the mind.” I started to take my hands and feet out of the meditation posture, but at the moment I had unfolded one leg but had yet to unfold the other, I could see that my mind was like a pendulum swinging more and more slowly, more and more slowly—until it stopped. Then there arose an awareness that was sustained by itself.


Slowly I put my legs and hands back into position. At the same time, the mind was in a state of awareness absolutely and solidly still, seeing clearly into the elementary phenomena of existence as they arose and disbanded, changing in line with their nature—and also seeing a separate condition inside, with no arising, disbanding, or changing, a condition beyond birth and death: something very difficult to put clearly into words, because it was a realization of the elementary phenomena of nature, completely internal and individual. After a while I slowly got up and lay down to rest. This state of mind remained there as a stillness that sustained itself deep down inside.


Eventually the mind came out of this state and gradually returned to normal. From this I was able to observe how practice consisting of nothing but fierce desire simply upsets the mind and keeps it from being still. But when one’s awareness of the mind is just right, an inner awareness will arise naturally of its own accord. Because of this clear inner awareness, I was able to continue knowing the facts of what’s true and false, right and wrong from that point on, and it enabled me to know that the moment when the mind let go of everything was a clear awareness of the elementary phenomena of nature, because it was an awareness that knew within and saw within of its own accord—not something you can know or see by wanting. For this reason the Buddha’s teaching “sabbe dhammā anattā—all phenomena are not-self”—tells us not to latch onto any of the phenomena of nature, whether conditioned or unconditioned. From that point on I was able to understand things and let go of attachments step by step.




If we don’t look inward, we make the mind dark and murky. Then when sensory contact comes, the mind can easily get all stirred up. So I ask that you make an effort to peer carefully inward to see what’s there in the mind, to see how things arise, to see how mental labels and fabrications arise. That way you’ll be able to disband them, destroy them, leaving the mind pure and simple, with no labels or attachments at all. It will then be empty of defilement. You might call it your inner beauty, “Miss Emptiness,” who doesn’t age, doesn’t grow ill, doesn’t die—a primal nature that doesn’t change. This is something you have to touch right at the mind. It’s not the mind itself, but the mind itself is what makes contact with it.



  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites