To feel yourself release | Daily News

To feel yourself release

As far back as 1848, Thomas de Quincey wrote a short, but resourceful essay titled as ‘Literature of Knowledge and Literature of Power’. This essay became well known due to the deep and sensitive insights invoked in it. At one moment, it is said there is first the literature of knowledge and secondly the literature of power. The function of the first is to teach, the function of the second is to move. The first is a rudder, the second an oar or a sail.

The first speaks to mere discursive understanding. The second speaks ultimately, it may happen to the higher understanding or reason, but always through affections of pleasure and sympathy. For a moment, I was drawn to reread the short essay as a result of deeply, if I may say, engrossed in the reading of a Dhamma text written by a Singaporean Thai monk named Luang Por Teean (1911 – 1988).

Ultimate interpretation

The 82-page booklet is titled as ‘To One that Feels’ published by Wisdom Audio Visual Exchange (WAVE). Commencing from the cover illustration to the Pali terms as used in the text, the entire short text is packed with literary and spiritual insights. The learned monk takes into account the explanation of the three terms: Sila, Samadhi and Panna. In most Dhamma texts, Sila is explained as discipline. Samadhi as mindfulness and panna and knowledge. But the writer Luang Por Teean goes several steps ahead in the ultimate interpretation. He takes the inspirational cue from the Buddha which goes as ‘it is to one that feels that I teach Dhamma, not to the one that does not feel.’

The awareness pertaining to suffering (dukkha) is taken the basic premise in the interpretation of all human matters of existence. As such, the conceptual awareness is not merely confined to words, but deeds in everyday life. In this regard, the starting point is explained as awareness of one’s own self in discipline or sila. The writer monk says that if one is aware of oneself, the moha (delusion) will gradually disappear. In order to achieve this end, one has to concentrate in silence, which is explained as Sati.

The learned monk tries as far as possible to explain the complexity of Dhamma concepts in age-old parables and day to day situations. One fascinating examples is the parable of the cat and the rat. A person can get a cat to get rid of rats. The person knows that the cat is an enemy of the rat. At first the cat may be very small and very weak, while at that moment a rat can be large and full of energy. So if the cat pounces on a rat, it is dragged along as the rat runs away and after holding on for a while it must let go.

Certain hindrance

We cannot blame the cat, but we must feed him. We feed the cat often and soon it is very energetic and very strong. By feeding the cat, the rats at home disappear. This illustrates that one strong power has to be developed in order to get rid of a certain hindrance. As the interpretation goes, if one were to develop Sati, the troublesome thought hindrances like moha and dosa gradually disappear. Giving way to setting up of the mind known as Samadhi is essential for a better lifestyle. How much of time do we devote to the cultivation of our inner peace?

It is the question raised quite often. The inner silence helps one gauge one’s own troubles at turmoil. As such, the basic advice is to sit or walk slowly or stand as relax in order to know yourself. This exercise can be taught to anybody by anyone who so practices. Majority of people tend to say that they are disturbed. But can’t we get rid of the disturbance? It is the basic issue, and how do you get rid of it? If one cannot get rid of it completely, try as much as possible to get rid of it gradually. There are several exercises.

This comes in the form of boy postures. We as teachers of theatrical exercises follow some of these techniques. The teachers teach us how to sit, how to stand, how to walk. They include all forms of bodily exercises. But little do we know that they are fused to mental exercises as well. It is the concentration that matters in all what we do. We do everything with an awareness. But this has to be cultivated to the point that one has to devote more time to it. In this work, the learned monk tries to answer or respond to some of the questions raised by the audience when he delivers the Dhamma talks.

Wise interlocution

This is usually a popular form of wise interlocution. One question from the audience goes as follows.

“When I sit, I can watch the thought, but when I walk to the toilet and intend to see the thoughts, when the thought arises should I stop walking and see the thought or what should I do?”

The response goes as follows:

“You don’t have to stop walking. Just be aware of yourself. When we are aware of ourselves, that is Samadhi. Whatever movement we make we will know it. Unintended though twill arise by itself. If do not see it we will attach to it, and this is dukkha. So we come to know the cause of dukkha.

Explaining furthermore, the monk says:

Normally our mind is indifferent. It can think dukkha and we know that it thinks without dukkha. But when we do not see thought, we follow thought, we enter thought, we enter the cave, that is dukkha.

To see thought is difficult for somebody who does not understand, but it is easy for one that understands. To see thought does not concern any kind of work. We can write, and when thought arises we see it. When we walk to the bathroom (as emphasized) or when we are bathing, and it thinks we just see it. So we don’t have to do anything with calmness because calmness is already there. The real calmness is when we see thought.”

Simplest form

In this manner, Dhamma concepts are explained in the simplest form possible. Exemplifying the Dhamma concepts more clearly, the learned monk tries to interpret the cause and effect in the following manner.

The cause is that we go to work, the effect is that we earn money. The cause is that we study. The effect is that we gain knowledge. So the knowledge is the result of the study. Therefore (he concludes) the cause is to be diligent and the effect will be truly useful.”

Developing sati is termed as cause. Gaining pragnna or knowledge is the effect. The learned monk never seems to conclude his concepts. Instead he leaves them to be concluded by oneself by saying: Make the experiment and discover for yourself.”

The interpretative chapters are arraigned in a poetic and symbolic manner. They go as graphical illustrations.

“It rains hard on a covered thing.

It rains hard on a covered thing.

It rains not hard on an open thing,”

Proceeds to

“So open up the covered thing.”

Proceeds to…

“Then it will not rain hard on that”

To

“Visible here and now

Calling to come and see

The Dhamma of an instant”

Entering into:

“To be experienced by knowing, each one for oneself.

How to practice developing Sati”

And observe

“Good in the beginning

Excellent in the middle and

Miraculous in the end: the object

Of developing Sati through the method of movement.”


 

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