Showing posts with label Phra Kovit Khemananda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Phra Kovit Khemananda. Show all posts
Phra Kovit Khemananda is the monk who drew the circle diagram taught by his teacher to the Zen teacher David Loy in the article Nondual Thinking

According to the biography here, he was ordained under Ven. Buddhadhasa:

An Extemporaneous Talk to the Singapore Zen Group
by (Phra) Kovit Khemananda

February 1981

I want to say that I am impressed when all of you turn to face the wall, to confront the wall, to confront your own doubt. When I flew to Singapore, I met a Slav on the plane and he said to me that he feels very deeply about Buddhism. And I asked him why he felt that way. He said, “Buddhism is close to life.” All of us here are interested in Buddhism I think, and I feel that without observing our mind, our own mind, there is no Buddhism. Please don’t look at me as a toy of culture. Now what do I mean, “a toy of culture”? It means that you want to hear me, a Buddhist monk, a Thai Buddhist monk who has come to talk to you about this and that — and I think that is not Buddhism. It is only culture. When we talk about Buddhism, we must talk about the mind. When we talk about the mind, can we find any person in the mind? It is very strange when we talk about the mind, it means we do not talk about anything else. A lot of you have probably experienced going abroad, crossing a mountain, or going to many countries. But can we cross our sensation, can we go beyond our senses? This is a problem of Buddhism. And I think it is a problem for mankind. Can we go beyond our sensation?

When you became a Buddhist or non-Buddhist, you became so by making sense. When you consider our sensation, it means that we try to observe a thing directly. From our opinions, we try to realize our own mind, and that means the world; we try to communicate our mind directly, and so communication is a tremendous problem. How can we take a look at a person, people, a Singaporean, a Thai? We look to a thing to follow the meaning and judge it. Now suppose you take a look a little farther: You take many, many things with you when you look at a thing; you memorize the name and so on...and so every moment we try to turn this little world into memorization. As soon as I take a look at a person, I just create, judging, “Is he a good man? Is he a Buddhist or not?” And that standard, that criteria, belongs to me. So when we take a look at a flower, or the sun and moon, or the electric lamp, I define myself as the observer of that thing….How can we observe our own sensation? And the method for observing our own mind or external objects is a problem. When I observe a thing, let's consider this deeply, closely...when I observe a cup of tea like this, is the cup of tea a specific object on its own? It’s only the name and form of it in my memory, right? Let us say I’m thinking about the cup of tea, but the pure essence is quite different isn’t it?...or the moon, the sun, or the flower...the flower is the flower in itself, or we memorize it to be a flower. So, for me, it is very important to realize this thing first.

Things are, everything is, because of the mind. If you have no mind, I mean if you die now, nothing exists, does it? It’s your world, because; this world is a world of perception, isn't it? Enjoy all the world, because after you die, the world belongs to the others. The sun and the moon are still the sun and the moon in my own perception and yours. And before we were born, was there any sun or moon in the world, the perception world? No. So the moon is the moon when I am a person who observes the moon, right? All of you must have studied about love or compassion (karuna), action and the reason for it. When you define a person who does anything, please take care of this, in every event we define a person who does something, a person is a consequence of a definition, doing something in some case in some time. But the self-nature does not depend on time, right? Most of the Buddhists that I have ever met, they act, they use themselves like the artist who wants to inspire himself in some time, in some place. I mean the artist is an artist sometimes, not all the time. When he picks up his brush and then he paints, he feels, “I am an artist,” but after that, maybe he turns to be a merchant or someone else. So the person depends on time, but self-nature can be beyond time. When you observe your breathing in and out, does the breathing in and out belong to you? Is there any person who breathes in-and-out? Can you say that the breathing in and out of the Prime Minister is quite different from you? It is just the breathing in and out, isn’t it? Have you ever observed your eye blinking naturally, beyond your desire, beyond your need, beyond your decision? The moment of time we move,,...breathing in and out, our mind grows every day and night, right? So when we say we are Buddhists, that is our person; we want to socialize, collectivize, or presume to be. Because of this action, because of this part, we can communicate with the other Buddhists. So the Buddhist and the one who realizes his own mind is quite different too. Some Buddhists can’t realize their own mind, but the non-Buddhist can. So what is Buddhism?

When we talk about Buddhism, we talk about the realization of our own mind. Without the realization of our own mind, for me, there is no Buddhism; it is only the toy of culture, the prey or culture. So, come closer to the point, most of the time when we talk about Buddhism, we point to sila (discipline), samadhi (meditation), or pañña (wisdom). When we talk about sila, what does it mean? Normally, it means the five precepts of the layman, or ten precepts of the novice, and 227 of the monk. That is not the real discipline. In the time of the Buddha, one monk couldn’t practice sila, because he mentioned to the Buddha that even though he tried to remember, he couldn’t — a lot of sila, a lot of vinaya. So he wanted to disrobe right away. But the Buddha mentioned, “Oh, Bhikkhu, can you observe just one thing?” The monk said, “Oh, if there is only one rule, I can stay in the monkhood.” So the Buddha himself said, “Bhikkhu, just observe your mind. This is the one discipline for you.”

Soon after that that monk gained enlightenment. So, what does it mean, sila or precepts? Let us consider five precepts very common to you, very familiar to you. I do not want to boast that I have a lot of sila, because I do not divide sila into categories one, two, three, four, or five. But let us consider “Do not kill.” Is it enough to be a Buddhist by not killing many people in this world? Many people never kill anything, even the ones who have no consciousness, or the one who stays in.a hospital for five or ten years and never kills anything. But all precepts, the essence of it is love. Love is an inner discipline. When you have love, you have the whole discipline, and the whole vinaya too. If I love you, then I do not fear you, and do not kill you nor do any harm to people or things. So the real vinaya is very wide, right?

You know samadhi, we talk a lot about samadhi, but some monasteries will teach you to stop your thought. And my master, my beloved teacher, mentioned that to stop your own thought is to kill yourself, because a stone does not think anything, right? That is very good for going into a trance, but if you take a look at the cup of tea, without thinking anything, that is a trance, but you have no wisdom. So, the master told his disciples to arouse sensation and thought by walking, just to see what is what. And meditation is not the way to control the mind. My opinion is not to control the mind. How can you control the mind? When you control your mind, you have a lot of problems. Why do you want to try and control it? What is your purpose for controlling your mind? A lot of students in Thailand come to me and ask me, “Please teach me how to control my mind, concentrate, and meditate.” And I ask them, “Why do you want to control your mind?” And actually they say, “I don't know…[laughter]...because everyone teaches us to control our minds.” Why do you want to control your mind, for what purpose? If you say you can’t study so well so you want to control your mind, do you think that by controlling your mind you will be able to increase your studying? And mostly — take a look — our common sense daily mind comes from the desire to control our mind.

When you sit in meditation, you make a conflict suddenly, immediately, because when you sit in meditation you desire meditative effect. When you go to church you feel or you have the sense that I am a suffering person, I have suffering in my mind and I want to have some lesson so I can gain happiness. So you define the true person at the same time, and that is our problem, isn’t it? When we practice meditation, we define that I am the one who sits here and hopes to gain meditative effect. And after ten minutes, or half an hour, time takes place in your life. And what is time? Time is a person, right? When you stay in time for a certain duration, you have the feeling of a person who suffers, and you separate, discriminate, samsara from nirvana. In this case, as long as you discriminate, you increase your person. Some people desire emancipation or extinction of suffering. So when they sit in meditation, they let their mind be distracted and hope for something — and then they fear, right?

But let me come to the point; when the Buddha teaches you about no person in the Theravadin sect, the first time when I came to be ordained, the master told me (and actually he tells every monk who comes to be ordained) “You must observe that there is no person in you, just only a movement, an element, a pure element in you.” But we come to Buddhism, tradition, and we try to philosophize about the Buddha’s teachings. For ten years, I tried to philosophize and contain my mind with this, but when I met my beloved teacher, he proved that I was wrong. He said stop reading books and just observe your mind sitting passively — do nothing in meditation. Even though I sit in meditation to calm my mind for five minutes, he would come and he would walk and disturb my mind. At first, I still did not see anything....I was confused. Because he said in his teachings — and this was very strange — meditation in his sense means just to observe our own mind passively and vitality will come to us. What is vitality? When we discriminate a person in time, we lose vitality. You suffer and fear comes to you, doesn’t it? When we look at something, we sense something, actually we sense our personhood. We confirm and confirm, time to time, to one person who is the observer. And the observer is the one who does something in some time and some place, and speculates to the other person who must accept the fruit of action. And then the law of government takes place, and our sensation is fear.

It seems to me that fear is the result of sensation, especially sensuality or sensualism. When we make sense of something, we discriminate a person and then we fear missing something. Again, can we go beyond our sensation? If we can go beyond our sensation, we can go beyond fear. We can go beyond the person, we can go beyond discrimination, can’t we? So, for the arbitrator in this case we must turn to movement. Consider movement, and then we can come to the meaning of meditation and wisdom. What is movement? When you passively observe the pure functioning world of your sense organ, then you can store up vitality, and that is meditation. Because you can observe your mind, how it works, how thoughts come and go, but when you try to stop the thought, how can you see anything? How can you see the pure functioning world of the organism or sense organ? Most of the Buddhists in Thailand, as far as I know, think that meditation is to stop the sense organ. That is death, isn't it?
Once a brahmin came to the Buddha and asked him “How do you practice Dhamma?” And the Buddha himself said, “I practice dhamma by sitting, walking, standing, and lying down.” So the brahmins laughed at him, and said, “The layman practices like you; they walk and they sit and they lie down, and why do you say that you practice Dhamma in this way?” But then the Buddha said that, “By sitting, I know just sitting, and when I walk, I just walk, and when I lie down, I just lie down.” This seems to us very mystical. Once the Buddha taught a very special person, he put a question to the Buddha when the Buddha went collecting alms in the market near a village, “Oh, my Lord, please tell me the way to practice. Give me a very short saying about practice.” Buddha said, “It is not the time for teaching Dhamma, it is the time for collecting alms.” But when that person questioned him three times, the Buddha said, “Whenever you see, just see, whenever you hear, just hear, whenever you know, just know. You will never exist in this world, and the next world, and the half-world and the next.” That means that there is no person in seeing. Whenever you can observe pure movement, there is no person. And that is why Buddha himself mentioned, “Just sit, just hear, just speak or just walk.” It seems very absurd, doesn’t it? But I think this is the essence of practice. 
Transcribed by Grant Olson, used with permission.