Investigating Pain

We human beings are like trees: If we water a tree, fertilize it, and keep looking after it, it will be fresher and grow faster than it normally would if we let it fend for itself without our help. The mind, when we keep looking after it, will become more and more radiant and peaceful, step by step. If it isn’t trained, it’s like a tree that isn’t looked after. Whenever it lacks training, it begins to act tarnished and defiled because the things that tarnish and defile it are already there inside it.

When we look after the mind continually with meditation, it will gradually become more and more calm. When it’s calm, it will begin to develop radiance along with its calm. And once it’s calm, then when we contemplate anything, we can penetrate into the workings of cause and effect so as to understand in line with the truths that appear both within us and without. But if the mind is clouded and confused, its thoughts are all worthless. Right becomes wrong, and wrong becomes progressively even more wrong.

Thus we are taught to train the mind so that it will be quiet, calm, and radiant, able to see its shadows, just as when water is limpid and clear: We look down into the water and can see clearly whatever plants or animals there are. But if the water is muddy, we can’t see anything when we look down into it. No matter what’s there in the water—plants, animals, or whatever—we can’t see them at all.

The same holds true with the mind. If it’s clouded, then we can’t see the harm of whatever—big or small—is hidden within it, even though that harm has been bad for the mind all along. This is because the mind isn’t radiant. For this reason, a mind clouded with muddy preoccupations can’t investigate to the point of seeing anything, which is why we have to train the mind to make it radiant, and then it will see its shadows.

These shadows lie buried in the mind. In other words, they’re the various conditions that come out of the mind. They’re called shadows—and we’re forever deluded into being attached to these shadows that come from the thoughts constantly forming and coming out of the mind at all times. They catch us off guard, so that we think ‘this’ is us, ‘that’ is us, anything at all is us, even though they are simply shadows and not the real thing. Our belief or delusion, though, turns them into the ‘real thing.’ As a result, we end up troubled and anxious.

At present, the great respected meditation masters on whom we depend in the area of the practice and in the area of the mind are falling away one by one. Those who are left can barely take care of themselves. Physically, they are wearing out step by step—like Venerable Ācariya Khao. To see him is really heart-rending. When the body reaches its final extremity, it’s as if it had never been strong or in radiant health. To lie down is painful, to sit is painful—whatever the position, it’s painful. When the time comes for pain to come thronging in, the khandhas are nothing but pain. But for people like this, it’s simply a matter of the body and the khandhas. In the area of the mind, they have no more problems about the behavior of the body or the khandhas at all.

But as for us, well, we’re always there welcoming such problems. No matter whether it’s the body or the thoughts of the mind that are acting adversely, the mind begins to act adversely as well. For example, if the body is malfunctioning, the mind begins to malfunction too, even though there is nothing really wrong with it. This is due to the mind’s own fear, caused by the fact that mindfulness and discernment aren’t up on the events surrounding the mind.

This is why we’re taught to train our mindfulness and discernment to be capable and bold, alert to events arising within the mind and around it—namely, in the various aspects of the khandhas when they behave in adverse ways. We have to be alert to these things. All that’s needed is for the mind not to be alert, or for it to be deluded by these things, and it will create stress and pain for itself without ceasing. Pain will have to come pouring in to overwhelm it. Even though the body may be pained simply in accordance with its own affairs, in accordance with the principles of nature, the mind will still grab hold of it to cause pain for itself, to burn itself, if it hasn’t investigated to see through these things.

If the mind has mindfulness constantly governing and guarding it, then whatever damage arises will be minor, because it arises in a single spot—within the mind—and mindfulness is there at the same spot, alert to the fact that this is arising, that is arising, good or evil is arising within. Discernment is what unravels, contemplates, investigates, and remedies the different preoccupations arising in the mind. Things then begin to calm down. But if mindfulness is lacking, things begin to get drawn out. Even though thought-formations may arise and vanish, one after another, countless times, saññā—labels and interpretations—don’t vanish. They connect things into long stretches. Stress and pain will then have to connect into long stretches and gather into the heart.

The heart is what then reaps all this suffering by itself because of the acts (kamma) that saññā and saṅkhāra fashion. The heart is the primary vessel for receiving both pleasure and pain—and for the most part it receives pain. If it lacks mindfulness and discernment, it receives only fakes and scraps. Rubbish. Things toxic and dangerous. But if it’s mindful and discerning, it can pick and choose. Whatever isn’t good, it picks out and throws away, leaving only the things of substance and worth within the heart. The heart is cooled, but not with water. It feels pleasure, but not because of external things. It’s cool from the Dhamma. It feels pleasure in the Dhamma—and the reason is because mindfulness and discernment are looking after it.

To attend to other things is not as difficult as attending to the heart. All the burdens of the world converge at the heart, and so to remove the things that have long been buried within us is very difficult work. We may even become discouraged because we see almost no results when we first begin. This is because the mind is still drifting while we work. It doesn’t really focus on taking its work seriously, and so results don’t appear as they should. This makes us discouraged, weak, and dejected. We give up, thinking, ‘It’d be better to stop, because we’re not getting anywhere’—even though once we have stopped it’s not any better, except that the mind has a better chance of filling itself with evil after we’ve stopped striving toward the good.

The assumption that says ‘better’ is the work of the defilements, which are all deceivers, tricking us into being discouraged and weak. Actually, even while we are striving, things aren’t yet getting good, even though we are practically dying to make them good. Our heart is ready to burst because of the effort—so how can things become good once we stop? If, as we think, things were to get good once we stop, then no one should have to do work of any sort any more. Once we stop, everything of every sort would become good on its own! Both within and without, things would have to be good. We won’t have to do much work. It’s better to stop.

The Dhamma isn’t like the defilements. The defilements say, ‘It’s better to stop.’ It’s better, all right—better for the sake of defilement, not for the sake of the Dhamma. The Dhamma is something with which we have to keep persevering until it’s good, and then better, and then even better, continually, because we don’t stop. This work is our work, which we do for the sake of Dhamma. It’s not lazy work, which is the work of the defilements. The results of the work will then appear step by step because we do it without ceasing.

This is how it is with the work of meditation. When it’s easy, we do it; when it’s hard, we do it—because it’s work that ought to be done. If we don’t do it, who will do it for us? When the fires of pain and suffering are consuming the heart because of the thoughts we form and accumulate, why don’t we complain that it’s hard? When we accumulate defilement to cause stress and anxiety to the heart, why don’t we feel that it’s difficult? Why don’t we complain about the stress? Because we’re content to do it. We’re not bothered with whether it’s easy or hard. It simply flows—like water flowing downhill. Whether it’s hard or not, it simply flows on its own, so that we don’t know whether it’s hard or not. But when we force ourselves to do good, it’s like rolling a log uphill. It’s hard because it goes against the grain.

In relinquishing the sufferings, big and small, to which the mind submits in the course of the cycle of rebirth, some of the work just naturally has to be difficult. Everyone—even those who have attained the paths, the fruitions, and nibbāna easily—has found it hard at first. When we reach the stage where it should be easy, it’ll have to be easy. When we reach the stage we call hard, it’ll have to be hard, but it won’t always be hard like this. When the time comes for it to be light or easy, it’s easy. And especially when we’ve come to see results appearing step by step, the difficulty disappears on its own, because we’re completely ready for it, with no concern for pleasure or pain. We simply want to know, to see, to understand the things on which our sights are set.

Study. We should study the elements and khandhas. We should keep watch on the elements and khandhas coming into contact with us. This is an important principle for all meditators. We should keep watch on them all the time because they keep changing all the time. They’re ‘aniccaṁ’ all the time, ‘dukkhaṁ’ all the time, without respite, without stop.

Investigate. We should keep trying to see their affairs as they occur within us, until we’re adept at it. As we keep investigating again and again, the mind will gradually come to understand more and more profoundly, straight to the heart. The heart will gradually let go, of its own accord. It’s not the case that we investigate once and then stop, waiting to rake in the results even though the causes aren’t sufficient. That’s not how it works.

All forms of striving for the good—such as meditating—have to go against the grain of the defilements. All of the great meditation masters, before becoming famous and revered by the world, survived death through great efforts. If this were easy work, how could we say they survived death? It had to be heavy work that required that they exert themselves to the utmost. Most of these masters have since passed away. Only a few are left. We hope to depend on them, but their bodies are ‘aniccaṁ.’ We can depend on them only for a period, only for a time, and then we are parted, as we have seen at present.

So we should try to take their teachings inward, as our masters, always teaching us inside. Whatever they have taught, we should take inward and put into practice. This way we can be said to be staying with our teachers at all times, just as if we were to be with the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha everywhere and always.

Our own practice is the primary mainstay on which we can rely with assurance. Depending on a teacher isn’t certain or sure. We are bound to be parted. If he doesn’t leave, we leave. If he doesn’t go, we go—because he and we all live in the same world of inconstancy. There is no difference among us. What we can hold to, though, are the basic principles of his teaching. We hold to them and earnestly put them into practice so as to see the results, so as to seize victory within the heart.

Victory of this sort is the supreme victory, unsurpassed in all the world. No other victory is its equal. We grapple to take victory over ourselves—over the defilements that we have believed to be ‘ourselves,’ ‘us,’ ‘ours,’ for eons and eons. This is an enormous undertaking. If you play at it, like children playing with dolls, the defilements will crush you to bits in no time, because you’ve been holding onto them for so long. So don’t delay. Investigate so as to know clearly and let go, so that the mind will be clear and free of suffering and stress, and not forever in disarray.

We’ve been accumulating the words ‘us’ and ‘ours’ for countless eons. If the defilements were material objects, what in the world could we take for comparison that would be larger than the pile of defilement, craving, and mental effluents, the pile of ‘us,’ the pile of ‘ours’ we’ve been accumulating for so long? There’s so much of it that it would be beyond our strength to drag it out for comparisons. If we were to drag it out just to pass the time between eating and sleeping—to chip at it, hack at it, poke at it, or slash at it once or twice, hoping to break through it—we wouldn’t get anywhere at all. We’d simply be grabbing at handfuls of water, one after another. So we have to give it our all: This is where we will gain our victory.

We’re meditators. We can’t back away from the fight with the defilements lying within us. The word ‘defilement’ means simply this ‘hunk of us.’ The defilements are ‘us,’ ‘ours.’ Everything that’s ‘us’ is actually a pile of defilements. There’s no need to doubt this. If we want to separate them out so as to see them piece by piece for what they actually are in line with their true nature, we have to separate them using persistent effort in the area of mindfulness and discernment as our means of investigating and evaluating them.

We separate the elements (dhātu), the four elements. Everyone in the world knows of the four elements, but if we want our knowledge to go straight to the heart, it has to come from the practice. If we investigate using discernment until we see distinctly, it will penetrate the heart of its own accord. Once it has reached the heart, you don’t have to say anything: The heart will let go of its own accord. Once the knowledge goes straight to the heart, relinquishment comes straight from the heart. For us to know straight to the heart and let go straight from the heart, we have to investigate over and over, again and again, until we understand.

Don’t assume that, ‘This we’ve already investigated, that we’ve already investigated,’ by setting up expectations, counting the times without seeing deeply enough to the level of letting go. The work isn’t done with. It really has to reach the level of ‘done with,’ felt deeply within the heart, which then lets go. If it’s really done with, there’s no need to investigate again, because the heart has understood and can let go completely.

The elements are already elements. Cognizance is an element. The things that make contact are also elements. Sights are elements, sounds are elements, all these things are already elements. As for the khandhas within us, the body (rūpa) is a khandha, feelings (vedanā) are a khandha, labels (saññā) are a khandha, thought-formations (saṅkhāra) are a khandha, cognizance (viññāṇa) is a khandha. They’re groups, aggregates, heaps, bits, pieces, all by their very nature.

As for the mind, know that it’s the ‘knower’ we have to test and comprehend in the same way as the elements and khandhas so that we won’t grab hold of it as the self or as belonging to the self, which would simply be creating a heavier burden. We must investigate it with discernment so as to see it for what it truly is, in just the same way. But as I’ve explained the investigation of the mind in a number of talks already, you should have a fair understanding of the matter by now.

In particular, when a pain arises in the body, we should know distinctly that, ‘This is a feeling.’ That’s all. Don’t go labeling or interpreting it, saying that the feeling is us, the feeling is ours, or that anything is ours, for that would simply foster more and more defilements and bring more and more pain in to smother the heart. Then when the feeling doesn’t vanish, that would cause even more pain in the heart, and what could we possibly find to bear it?

Pains arise in the body. They’ve been arising ever since the day we were born. The moment we came from our mother’s womb, the pain was excruciating. Only by surviving this death did we become human beings. If you don’t call that pain, what will you call it? Pains have existed ever since way back when. You can’t force them to change their ways. The way of pain in the body is that it continually has to show itself. Once it arises, it remains and then vanishes. That’s all there is to it—arises, remains, vanishes—regardless of whether it’s an external feeling or an internal feeling, namely a feeling or mood in the mind.

In particular, feelings in the body: Investigate them so as to see them clearly. The body is the body. We’ve seen it clearly, known it clearly ever since the day we were born. We can conjure it into anything—us, ours, a prince, a king, nobility, whatever, however we want to conjure it—but its truth is simply a truth, fixed and unalterable. It doesn’t change in line with what we conjure it up to be. The body is simply the physical khandha. It has four elements—earth, water, wind, and fire—gathered together and called a person, a woman, a man, classified in endless ways, given this name and that, but what stays the same is the body: the ‘physical heap.’ All the parts taken together are called the physical heap, which is one reality. Take out any of the parts, and each of them also has its reality. When they’re gathered together, the skin is skin, the flesh is flesh, and the same holds true for the tendons, bones, and so forth. Even though they have names, don’t fall for their names. See them simply as individual realities, as a physical heap.

As for the heap of feelings, it’s not the body. The body isn’t a feeling, such as pain. Feeling is feeling. Whether pleasure appears, or pain or a neutral feeling appears, it’s simply a separate feeling that you can see clearly. These two khandhas—the body and feeling—are more prominent than saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa, which arise at intervals and immediately vanish.

Feelings, however, even though they vanish, have a period in which they remain. This you can clearly see in the practice. When pain arises, focus on it as your target, as the point to investigate. Don’t see the pain as being yourself, for that would be going against the true nature of feelings and the method of investigation, and you won’t be able to know the truth of the feeling as you should with your discernment. When you don’t know the truth and persist in assuming the pain to be yourself, you’ll increase the pain enormously within the mind, because you are going against the principles of nature, which are the principles of truth the Lord Buddha taught.

He taught us to investigate so as to see pain—in whichever part of the body it may arise—simply as a phenomenon that arises, remains, and then vanishes in its own due course. Don’t get entangled in it. Don’t fashion or conjure it into being this or that, if you don’t want to be forever burdened with pain, with never a moment to put it down. See its truth the moment it arises, remains, and vanishes. That’s all there is to feeling. Ferret it out so as to see it clearly with mindfulness and discernment.

When you have focused on a feeling, turn and look at the mind to see if the mind and the feeling are one and the same thing. Then look at the body and the mind: Are they one and the same? Look at them so as to see them clearly. While you are investigating, don’t send the mind out anywhere else. Keep it right at that one spot. For example, when investigating, focus on the pain so as to see it distinctly. Then turn to look at the mind so as to see this awareness distinctly. Are they one and the same? Compare them. This awareness and that feeling: Are they the same? Can you make them one and the same? And is the body like the mind? Is it like the feeling? Is it similar enough to be one and the same?

There! This is the way we’re taught to separate things so as to see them clearly. The body is the body—how can it be like the mind? The mind is a mental phenomenon, a nature that knows, but the elements of the body are elements that don’t know. The earth elements doesn’t know, the water element doesn’t know, the wind element doesn’t know, the fire element doesn’t know—but this mental element (mano-dhātu) knows. This being the case, how can they be one and the same?

Similarly with the pain: It’s an element that doesn’t know. It’s a phenomenon. These two unknowing elements are also different: The feeling and the body are different sorts of things. They aren’t one and the same. How could you make them one and the same?

In making distinctions while investigating, look so as to see clearly the way things actually are. There’s no need to fear death. There is no death to the mind. Don’t create snares to catch yourself and hurt yourself. There is no death, i.e. no death to the mind. There is nothing but awareness, pure and simple. Death doesn’t exist in the mind, which is something 100% unalterable and sure.

Death is an assumption that has been conjured up for the mind through the power of the mind’s own delusion. The mind has conjured it up to deceive itself. So once we’ve investigated in line with the truth—that the mind is not something that dies—what reason will we have to fear death? What is ‘death’? We know that the elements and khandhas fall apart. We human beings, when we’ve stopped breathing, are called ‘dead people.’ At that moment the ‘knower’ separates from the elements, so that nothing is left but physical elements with no feelings: That’s a ‘dead person.’

But actually the knower doesn’t die, so we have to investigate in order to see this clearly with discernment. We needn’t create the issue of death to stab or snare the heart or to obstruct the path we are following for the sake of seeing and knowing the truth through investigation. No matter how great or how little the pain, keep your attention well fixed on the affairs of that pain. Use the pain as a whetstone for sharpening discernment. Separate the pain from the mind. Separate the mind from the pain. Be able to compare their every aspect. Be careful not to let your attention wander while investigating, so that you’ll be able to see and know the truth while in hand-to-hand combat with that particular khandha.

Now, if it should happen that the mind dies as the world supposes—if it should die while you’re making your investigation— then make sure you know what dies first and what dies after. When does the feeling vanish? When does the mind vanish? Where does it vanish to? Actually the mind by nature is not something that vanishes. How can anyone come and make it vanish?

Investigate carefully between the mind and the khandha until the truth is absolutely clear to the heart and your doubts vanish. This is called training discernment, developing discernment so as to see the truth.

No matter how great the pain arising at that moment, it won’t have the power to affect the mind at all. Once we see the mind as the mind, the feeling as feeling—once discernment has seen clearly in this way that the khandhas and the mind are real in their own separate ways—they won’t infringe on one another at all. The body is simply the body and stays as it is. When the pain appears, the body is still there. When the pain vanishes, every part of the body remains, in accordance with its own nature. If the feeling arises, that’s the feeling’s business. If it remains, that’s the feeling’s business. If it vanishes, that the feeling’s business. The mind is the one who knows that the pain arises, remains, and vanishes. The mind isn’t the one who arises, remains, and vanishes like the body or the feeling.

Once you have investigated this way until you’re adept, then when the chips are down, investigate in the same way. You needn’t fear death, because you’re a warrior. Fear of death is not the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha. The Dhamma is a matter of courage in the face of the truth. This is the basic principle of the svakkhāta-dhamma: the well-taught teaching. Follow in the path of this truth. If the time comes to die, be ready to die. There is no need to fear, because the mind doesn’t die—but be sure to know clearly what is appearing at that moment. For example, the pain: What is it like? Look at it so as to know its truth. Once you have seen its truth, then the pain is simply a phenomenon. It doesn’t have any meaning, good or bad, at all. And it doesn’t act as anyone’s enemy. It’s simply its own full reality, displaying itself in line with natural principles. The body is also its own reality, appearing in line with its own principles. The mind is a separate phenomenon that constantly knows and doesn’t intermingle with anything else.

When you have investigated so as to know all-around, the mind extricates itself to be its own reality in full measure. The pain has its own fullness in line with its nature; the body has its own fullness in line with its nature, in that the mind doesn’t create any turmoil, trying to lay claim to anything of theirs. This being the case, nothing disturbs anything else. Pain, no matter how great, has no impact on the mind. You can smile even while great pain is arising—you can smile!—because the mind is something separate, not involving itself with the feeling. It doesn’t intermingle with the pain so as to burn itself. This way, the heart is at ease.

This, then, is the investigation of pain so as to comprehend it, by taking pain as your battlefield, as a whetstone for discernment, as the place where you temper and sharpen discernment by investigating and dissecting the pains that arise. Single out the body and single out the feeling. Which will vanish first, which will vanish after, try to know in accordance with their truth. Arising and vanishing have always been a part of their nature from time immemorial. Regardless of whether or not you’ve been aware of it, these have been their inherent characteristics. All you need to do is to investigate so as to see in line with their truth, so as not to resist the Dhamma, and you can live at ease.

So. If the time comes to die, let the body die—as the conventions of the world understand ‘dying.’ The body falls apart, so let it fall apart. Whatever is going to disintegrate, let it go—but that which doesn’t disintegrate remains. That which doesn’t disintegrate is this mind.

This mind, once it has developed discernment as a standard within itself, is really like this, with no flinching in the face of illness or death. The mind is courageous and capable.

There, then. This is how we investigate our affairs—the affairs of the mind. We needn’t fear death. Why fear it? The Buddha taught us not to fear. The Dhamma doesn’t teach us to fear. The truth is nothing frightening, because it’s the truth. What’s frightening or emboldening about it? Courage? There’s nothing that calls for courage. Fear? There’s nothing that calls for fear. Here I’m talking about the level where we have reached pure truth. There’s no trace of the words ‘courage’ or ‘fear’ left in the heart at all. There’s only purity.

But while investigating so as to reach the truth, we need to have courage. When we are going to seize victory for ourselves, we can’t not have courage. Otherwise we’ll lose. This is because we’re following the path. We need courage and daring, with no fear or intimidation in the face of anything at all. Whatever comes our way, we must investigate so as to know and understand it, without growing discouraged or weak, so as to be intent on knowing and seeing it in line with its truth—everything of every sort that comes into the range of our awareness. This is called being a warrior in the combat between the mind and khandhas, or between the Dhamma and the defilements.

Courage of this sort is proper and right. Once we’ve reached the goal, fear disappears, courage disappears, because we have gained full victory. Fear and courage are no longer an issue.

But right now fear and courage are a critical issue for those still on the way. Develop courage with discretion in the areas that call for courage. Be a fighter with the things that call for fight—such as feelings of pain—so as to see in line with their truth. Don’t be afraid. The Buddha taught us not to fear. Fear has the same value as death. When the time comes, things have to fall apart. That’s what’s called ‘death.’ But in any event, meditators have to come to know with discernment before these things undergo their transformation. Spread a net of discernment around yourself on all sides. Whatever appears will be caught in the net of discernment, so what is there to fear? What is there to be anxious about? What is there to knock you off balance? Everything simply follows its truth, which you have already investigated.

This is how ‘warriors’ investigate. Even though they’re in the midst of khandhas that are a solid mass of flame, they’re calm and at ease, with the normalcy of a mind that has completely comprehended, without being deluded by any phenomenon. This is what’s meant by one who ‘knows all around.’

Whatever the symptoms displayed by the body, if they are endurable, we endure them. We care for the body, look after it, nourish it, make it eat, make it sleep, make it drink, take care of it in accordance with its nature. If its symptoms are unendurable and it’s simply going to go, then just let it go in accordance with the ways of nature. It’s a truth, so how can you thwart it? Let it go in line with the truth. This is called letting go with knowledge that accords with the truth. The mind feels no attachment, no regrets. This is the basic principle of practice for one who has attained, or is about to attain, victory within the heart.

Previously, the mind has always lost out to defilement and craving. It has never, until now, defeated them. For eons and eons it has lived entirely under the sway of the defilements to the point where it has forgotten to realize that ‘The defilements are the boss. We’re their servant.’

But now we’re going to turn over a new us, using the principles of the Dhamma as means to subjugate the defilements and mental effluents that have been subjugating us, or that have been the ruling elite, the big bosses of the cycle of rebirth, forcing the mind to go here and there for so long. Now we’re going to set our hearts on contending with the defilements for victory so as to see the truth of everything of every sort, with nothing to obscure our discernment at all. At the same time, we will take victory for our own—after having been defeated for so long—using the power of unflagging mindfulness, discernment, conviction, and perseverance.

Those who have reached the realm of excellence through perseverance have a dignity that outshines that of others. At the same time, they can take pride in their own perseverance. Those who have reached the realm of excellence through gaining victory over themselves, and no one else, are supreme within themselves, with no creation of animosity—unlike victory in war, with which the world creates endless animosities, like links in a chain. To gain victory over oneself, though, is to gain the foremost victory. As the Dhamma says,

attā have jitaṁ seyyo:

‘It is better to gain victory over oneself.’

The things that have created turmoil for the heart, causing it suffering and stress in the past, now come to an absolute stop. In what I have been saying, don’t forget that perseverance is the important factor, the factor that supports mindfulness and discernment as the trailblazers for the sake of progress in our work. Discernment is very important for investigating and exploring so as to see causes and effects. Mindfulness supervises the work, to keep our attention from straying. When discernment has investigated so as to see the truth of such things as the five khandhas, the defilements will have no place to hide and so will come pouring together into one place—into the heart. They have no other place to hold onto, no other place to attach themselves, because all such places have been obliterated by discernment.

The next stage is to lay siege to the heart, where the enemies lie gathered, so as to disperse them from it until nothing is left. There! That’s called the death of the defilements. They die right there, right there in the heart where they’ve always been. They’ve lived there; and when they die, they die there through the power of the most up-to-the-minute ‘super-mindfulness’ and ‘super-discernment.’ This is called full victory. The supreme victory is won right here. The teachings of the religion all converge at this point. The final stage in their practice comes to an end right here. We finish our task right here. When we reach the realm of release from suffering and stress, we reach it right here.

Aside from this, there is nothing: no time, no place, no future, no past. As for the present, we are wise to everything of every sort. We have no more issues, no more disputes. There are no more cases in court between defilement and the mind. Super-mindfulness and super-discernment have sat on the bench and handed down a death sentence for defilement and all its tribe. There is nothing left to carry on the lineage of birth and being. At that moment, defilement and all its tribe sink out of sight. This is called reaching nibbāna: a heart truly constant and sure.

All the various conditions that used to deceive the mind no longer exist. All that remains is pure awareness. Even though the khandhas—rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa—may form in accordance with their nature, they simply go their own way, which has no meaning in terms of defilement at all. The body behaves in its ‘body way.’ Feelings—pleasure, pain, neither pleasure nor pain, which appear in the body—behave in the way of feelings. Saññā—labels, acts of recognition—behave in their own way. Saṅkhāra—the various thought-formations—behave in line with their own nature. Viññāṇa—acts of noticing when external objects come into contact with the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind—notice and vanish, notice and vanish, in line with their nature, without being able to provoke the mind as before, because the things that cause provocation have all been destroyed without leaving a trace. These are thus called ‘khandhas pure and simple.’ The mind has reached nibbāna in the midst of khandhas pure and simple. This is to reach living nibbāna: the mind purified of defilement.

Those who have reached this point, you know, don’t ask where nibbāna is. And why should they? What is nibbāna, actually? The word nibbāna is a name. The nature we call nibbāna is the actual thing. When you reach the actual thing, why ask the name? Why ask for traces and signs? What is there left to grope for? Those who really know don’t grope, aren’t hungry, don’t lack—because they have reached ‘enough,’ completely, of everything of every sort.

So. That should be enough explanation for now. I ask that we as meditators take this and contemplate it so as to see the truth I have mentioned. We will then be complete in our hearts, as I have described, without a doubt.

So I’ll ask to stop here.