This post introduces the esteemed Thai Abhidhamma and Vipassana teacher.
I have known her personally for over 30 years and discussed Dhamma with her for hundreds of hours. Now 95 years old she still speaks and replies to questions on Zoom (due to the covid restrictions) for hours every day. Both in English and Thai. In my opinion her talks get ever more profound and clearer.
A. Sujin: For example the color or that which is seen now, right now, it’s real, it has arisen, otherwise how could it appear, but no one understands this characteristic as a dhamma, a kind of dhamma. And not just the reality that can be seen, what about that which sees? Different reality, because the reality which cannot experience or know anything, like sound, hardness, all these are realities which cannot experience anything. So what we take for I or living being, like animal or no matter in what plane, there must be another reality which experiences or knows whatever appears, and the Pali uses the term rupa for any reality which cannot experience anything, like sound, smell, taste, touch. They cannot experience, so the Buddha used the term rupa dhamma.
If there was only just rupa, by conditions, the world would not be like this, but the world of dukkha is the moment of experiencing an object, not understanding its nature as it just arises and falls away. So there is condition to cling to that which is seen, even if that which is seen has fallen away, yesterday or a moment ago, but memory still clings, taking it for something permanent, like now we’re sitting here, but actually each moment or each reality is so short, quite short, beyond expectation or anyone would know, otherwise everyone would experience the arising and falling away, the impermanence, but why can’t them? Because realities arise and fall away unknowingly, and it goes on like something permanent, all the time.
For example, like when one is fast asleep, where is that person? Where are we at moment of being fast asleep? The world does not appear, but whenever there’s seeing the world appears, and at moment of hearing another world appears. There are only six worlds, but they arise alternately, so fast that they come together as something like I or something permanent, that’s why before he can enlighten the true nature of realities, it took quite a long, long time to become detached from clinging, the samudaya (the cause) that should be eliminated until it’s completely eradicated. Like the four noble truths, if one has still clinging for the results, the I wanting to experience or to have pañña, it hinders, it closes the door, the path to become enlightened.
Because even right now, who knows that realities arise and fall away? Those who have developed right understanding, until the attachment or the clinging to the objects is less and less and less, nothing can hinder the [understanding of] true nature of the arising and falling away right now. So it’s the matter of understanding from hearing, considering, and really understand what dhamma is. Because most people think that it’s in the book, just talk about the four noble truths, or the paticca samuppada or ayatanas, but is this moment ayatana? The cakkhupasada is the inner, and the visible object which is seen is the outer, both are ayatana, cakkhayatana and rupayatana. No one can condition seeing because even seeing as ayatana is conditioned by many many conditions. Without the previous moment there can never be seeing, and when the object is pleasant, who conditioned the seeing to experience that? The kusala kamma which was done, no matter how long ago, in this life or in other lives, it can condition the seeing of pleasant object, when time comes only. But when it’s not the time for the kusala vipaka, that person cannot see the pleasant object. So there are many, many conditions for anything to arise in split seconds, each must be conditioned and not by just a single condition at all. By this way one learns to understand the wisdom of the Buddha and his compassion to teach the others to understand reality like him, because some have accumulation of saddha and pañña to see the value of the understanding of the Teachings. So it’s just about any time, any moment, we never lose the Dhamma at all, what it’s about, just for the elimination, lessen and lessen the attachment to all objects which are experienced through the six doorways, because there’s attachment unknowingly, all the time, so fast. Like the Buddha said that the rupa lasts for 17 moments of citta. The citta arises and falls away faster than a kalapa of rupa, so he said that one rupa lasts for 17 moments. The citta and cetasikas arise together and fall away 17 times while one rupa arises, and now the moment of seeing and the moment of hearing cannot be simultaneously, at the same time, because they’re conditioned by different conditions, and the for seeing consciousness, without the eye-base or eye-sense, it’s impossible for it to arise. But it seems like they [seeing and hearing] arise together. So how fast 17 moments would be, faster than we can imagine, and before one rupa has fallen away, attachment is there, because it’s not just one moment of seeing, there are the cittas which follow, experiencing the same object which hasn’t fallen away yet, and it’s time for akusala to arise before one tiniest kalapa falls away. So each day the akusala is accumulated, from moments of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking, all day. And how many days from birth? And how many would be before death?
So it’s only the Teachings of Buddha which can help people to understand that actually one clings to that which arises and falls away. Like the closed hand, when it’s like that and we cling to thinking that something is in there, inside, actually there’s nothing. It’s like that each moment, previous moment’s gone, so it cannot be I or anyone at all, all are namas and rupas, all are conditioned realities. So one cannot expect how long one will take to develop right understanding. When one reads about the previous life of the savaka and thera and theri, they had developed quite long long time, for Sariputta one asankhyeyya and one hundred thousand kappa, to be the great disciple and for the others only about 100 kappa.
A kappa is not a day, not a month, not a life, it’s uncountable lives. So when one has a good opportunity to hear dhamma, it’s not just luck or happening, it comes from previous accumulation and by having such a very deep and certain confidence, one keeps on developing understanding, because the Buddha taught people to understand by different ways, not just sit and know nothing. And so when people do not study carefully about the saccañana, kiccañana and katañana, no saccañana, no pariyatti, so how come the understanding when the person who wants to develop, or bhavana, or patipatti? Because they don’t know that pariyatti is the very well versed foundation of understanding of Dhamma. That nothing can move satisampajañña away from reality right now, because usually one keeps on moving away from seeing to thinking about what is seen, and the story of what is seen. And at moment of hearing no attention, no saddha, no sati to understand hearing as a reality which hears, no one at all. And by not understanding the Teachings one turns away from hearing and thinks a lot about what is heard. And life is like this, no matter where in the world, or in heaven. When one hasn’t listened to the Teachings yet, how can one know about reality right now, as the Teachings of the Buddha, the enlightened one. He kept teaching on and on, from the early time of his enlightenment until nearly his death.
Just to help people to see the value of understanding in order to have less and less attachment. Otherwise there can never be a moment of experiencing nibbana at all, not knowing reality right now as just conditioned reality, no self. The idea of “I will develop” or “I will do” something or patipatti, in order to gain nibbana is useless, no understanding. Because it’s no-one who experiences nibbana, [it’s] the developed, the highly developed pañña which can understand realities at any time, by listening, considering, which can be condition for direct awareness, because now seeing this moment is not the previous one, and the one following the previous moment is the present one, and then this one is past, again.
So, it’s so precious to understand the depth of the Teachings and really seeing the Buddha, when one understands his Teachings, otherwise He would only be a statue. But the Teachings are not the statue, and he didn’t name anyone to be the teacher, because he had taught everything, so well, each word is true, like dhamma. In Thailand some people spend their time going north, west, south, to look for dhamma. But when that anyone understands what dhamma is, one doesn’t have to go anywhere, because any moment is dhamma. So it depends on understanding from hearing and considering as pariyatti, which can condition patipatti, which the Thai use to term patibat. Patipatti means that which reaches reality with right understanding from pariyatti.
Without hearing and considering as pariyatti, no conditions for direct awareness to begin to understand reality, which is so very deep. For example, who can think about that which is eye-base or eye-sense as ayatana, at moment of seeing. At this moment, what is seeing is ayatana, and seeing itself, the manayatana, and the pasada rupa is cakkhayatana and cetasikas which arises with the seeing is dhammayatana. All four have to be present at that moment, or now at this moment. So people just read about ayatana and can remember the six and the twelve, but not knowing ayatanas right now, the living ones, the real ones, not the past ones. So by understanding ayatana at moment of experiencing anything, it is ayatana, right then. And not just one ayatana, not just only the inner and the outer, but citta cetasikas and rupas right then. All are conditioned just to condition one moment of seeing, that which arise and falls away, no matter what we take for a permanent thing, because of sañña, memory. And in Tipitaka it says about the nimitta of the five khandhas, it shows that there cannot be the understanding of one characteristic of a reality at a time, because right now who can tell the moment of seeing, before moment of liking or disliking the reality which appears?
Seewalee T.: So it is always important to have a right view and right understanding together, and in the eightfold path the first is right view and the right understanding.
Su. Because if one is asked what right view is, it’s right understanding. Many words which have the same meaning, like viññana, mano, hadaya, pandara, same meaning. So in other words, like the Thais use the term pañña, a Pali term, but they cannot tell what pañña knows. Just pañña, pañña, but what pañña knows, can it known or understand reality right now? If not it’s not pañña, what the Buddha taught. Hurry to understand or to do anything, to be truthful one knows what one can understand from hearing, enough or not yet.
ST. The five khandhas, that is the most important thing to understand.
Su. The proper khandha appear not just one very tiny characteristic, but it appears with nimitta, shape and form, like this moment, many many processes of seeing and many many processes of that which is seen, arising and falling away until the nimitta appears together with seeing, because the ordinary people think that they see something, because the seeing arises and falls way in succession, many many times and the rupa which appears arises and falls away many many times, so only nimitta appears. But the Buddha experienced the difference, the distinction between the two, that is pañña. Because at moment of enlightenment is not different from this moment, but this moment no pañña. The object is the same, the arising and falling away must be the same, no change no different at all, but the pañña which develops learns to become detached, not taking any reality for I or mine. Like seeing, this moment of hearing it’s not moment of seeing, and moment of thinking after seeing is not the seeing. And this is life, because no one can condition the dhatus, the elements. One can understand that elements are conditioned, from the time that it’s not this world yet, and it develops until the world is the world of lakes, and hills mountains and everything, elements. But not just rupa in the world, because now there is seeing. So seeing, hearing and thinking is another element, which is different from the corporeality, the physical element, because one [element] cannot experience anything but the other, whenever it arises, it has to experience, by conditions, when time comes, like the rupa, when time comes it begins to be lake and mountain and so on, and when time comes the citta and cetasikas can arise and experience object, and then pass away, no one at all.
ST. The best way of the meditation and breathing when the how we experience the wisely to control these perceptions and the things, how to make more calm and peace what is the best way. Nowadays so many people meditate and teach but still there’s so many misunderstanding of meditation technique, there are so many misinterpretation and misguidance, so what is the best way as to experience, to give us some kind of guidance.
Su. Would anyone like to meditate, not understanding reality right now or just want to hear the words from Buddha and understand what he taught about reality. Because reality must appear by conditions, from life to life, from this moment to the other moment, never lost. It depends on understanding, like now, would anyone like to meditate or would like to understand? Because actually the pariyatti comes first, to condition the patipatti and without patipatti there can never be pativedha at all. Pativedha means insighting the true nature of reality which one has learned, like the arising and falling away, no self no one at all.
Okay now there is seeing, who knows that is not self? Who knows that is only an element which is conditioned to see and then falls away, instantly? The seeing cannot think, the seeing itself cannot like or dislike, that’s why one should understand one word from the very beginning, dhamma, nama dhamma and rupa dhamma, otherwise we’ll mix them and we think that either of them cannot be known, cannot be proven, but actually when one learns and is truthful to understand the Teachings respectfully, so one’s never lost by doing something which does not understand, what the Buddha taught about this moment at all, anatta. When realities are not self, why one chooses to do, to focus or think that at that moment it’s the sati, but actually sati is anatta.
How can one have sati at will? Is there any way to have sati? Is there any way to create sati? Who can make the seeing arise, who can make the noise or even the hearing arise? Impossible, each moment shows the anattaness of reality, but pañña is not there enough to understand the anattaness of reality at all. That’s why one learns to understand which will be the conditions for direct awareness which is patipatti. So to do anything doesn’t mean that there is understanding of anything. For breath, what is breath? Can anyone who concentrate or have breath as the object of meditation tell about it? Is it different from softness, or heat at any part of the body? Why just breath? Which is more subtle than the ordinary hardness and softness that can be experienced from head to toe, anywhere at the body. Breath is very subtle because now, even there is breath, who knows breath or who knows the hardness or softness anywhere, not breath? And in Tipitaka it says that very wise men like arahata can have breath as the object of understanding, but people today just want to concentrate on breath, thinking that the I can know the truth of breath. The truth of breath is the anattaness, which is conditioned. No one can do, no one can get it at will because it’s so short, when sati does not arise, it’s gone. Each moment is gone with ignorance, because there is no understanding. And the person who doesn’t have understanding accumulates more and more and more and more ignorance, and misunderstanding too. And that is not the Teachings of the Buddha at all. One has to be very faithful to oneself and respectful to the Buddha. Instead of wanting to meditate I’d like to know what meditation is, not just count and meditate without telling about meditation.
ST. I’m counting now.
Su. No, who is counting? And what is counting? Isn’t just thinking? About numbers, not on breath at all. If breath is the object of understanding it has to be anatta, by conditions, not anyone trying to have it as object at all. Like now, we have different objects, depending on each accumulation. At moment of seeing there can be moment of hearing, different people experience different objects, no rules at all. No time for gaining it, by trying to know it. And why trying? Because vayamo is right effort, it’s right when it accompanies right understanding. Even sati is right when it accompanies right understanding, that’s why there’s not just the right eightfold path but there is also the wrong eigthfold path, actually, wrong wiew.
ST. It is explained in the Samma Ditthi sutta.
Su. Right, and when there is right understanding it conforms with every word of the Teachings, like anattaness. And what is the first truth of the four noble truths, the arising and falling away, not just the feeling or the unpleasant time at all. Even now pañña can experience the arising and falling away, the dukkha, because there isn’t only dukkha-dukkha. Lifelong study, because Buddha taught for 45 years, just 10 minutes or one hour. I think that it’s good to know that one has accumulated lots of ignorance and sakkaya ditthi, common to everyone who hasn’t heard the Teachings yet, sakkaya. So there are two words, kaya and sakkaya.
It’s a very subtle point, because when we talk about ditthi, it’s not right, it has to be wrong, it depends on how strong it is or how subtle it is. Usually the sakkaya ditthi is very common for everyone, but it does mean that any time that one knows what is what it’s sakkaya ditthi. It depends on whether it’s the moment after seeing, and the citta which follows remembers the characteristic and knows what is it, like Buddha knew Sariputta and Buddha knew Mogallana and so forth. It’s not ditthi, or sakkaya ditthi. But for those who do not understand what appears as a reality, just one at a time, and take the nimitta of many processes of experiencing whatever appears as something permanent, something staying, as something like a microphone, that is sakkaya or attanuditthi. Taking a reality for something, just for something like paper, paper, the idea of it, with wrong view, not just the understanding of the shape and form after seeing. So it depends on right understanding with direct awareness at that moment to know whether there is ditthi or no ditthi. It’s just understanding what the object is, as usual. The more one studies [the more] one can understand the Teachings, clearer and clearer too, to see the differences.
ST. Hearing the Dhamma is very important.
Su. Very important, yes, pariyatti, and who knows that we take the whole body for permanent thing? But actually what about the space in between the kalapas, very tiny, all over the body, like here too there must be the akasa or space in between everything. So how can this be permanent? It can be broken down to the tiniest pieces at any time, so where am I? Is this I? No, not at all. And also nama too, the nimitta of feeling, it’s not just one moment of feeling, many moments, to know whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant. It can be known, with right understanding.
I had this app made (available on playstore) to allow for easy playing of dsg recordings . It connects directly with http://dhammastudygroup.org and plays some of the recordings there.
Can use it on phone with bluetooth connected to car audio etc. so far has 200 recordings. The way I use it is that I choose a recording then push the download button. After it downloads the recording is available in the download list for playing even without Internet.
[App dsg recordings ]