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A Single Mind

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(Ajaan Fuang rarely allowed his talks to be taped, and he was even more adamant about not allowing anyone to tape his conversations. Somehow, though, the following conversation was taped with his permission. In it, hes giving advice to some of his students -- young women in their late twenties and early thirties -- who were being pressured by their parents to settle down, get married, and start having children. There were other occasions on which, when asked, he gave advice on how to lead a happily married life to any of his students who were planning on marriage, but its easy to see from this discussion where his heart really lay.)

Student: When I see someone carrying a child and I give it some thought, all I can see is that its a lot of suffering.

Ajaan Fuang: Thats right. Give it a lot of thought. Once theres birth, there has to be suffering. Weve all suffered in this way. First theres your own suffering, then you take on the sufferings of others. Look at a baby. What is it? Where does it come from? The Buddha says that its suffering; it comes from the power of craving and defilement. First you have to carry it around in your womb, then when its born you have to carry it around on your hip, and then when it starts to walk you have to lead it by the hand. When you see this sort of thing your heart just...

Student: Withers.

Ajaan Fuang: Yes. It withers. This is what gives you a sense of samvega. This is the sort of thing you want in your practice. Its your teacher. They call it your teacher. Ask yourself: "Is this what you want out of life? Is this what you want, this sort of thing? " Not really. "Then if you dont want this sort of thing, dont get involved." How many times have you been through this already? This isnt the first time, you know. Youve been doing this holding carrying weighing yourself down routine for a long, long time -- hundreds of thousands of eons. If you keep getting involved, theres no way youll get free.

Birth, aging, illness, and death: these things are normal. Birth is the normal way of things; ageing is the normal way of things, illness and death are the normal way of things. Get so that you can see clearly that this is the way things normally are. Thats when a sense of disenchantment can arise. Youll be able to loosen the grip that these things have on you. Youll be able to pull them out, root and all.

Weve suffered as the slaves of defilement and craving for how long now? Can you remember? Ask yourself. Can you remember all youve been through? And how much longer are you going to let it keep on happening -- this holding and carrying and weighing yourself down? How many eons have you been doing this? Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of eons. Can you count them all? Of course you cant. And how much longer will you have to keep on suffering in this way? If youre still stubborn, still unwilling to listen to the Buddhas teachings, this is the kind of reward youll have to expect out of life. Do you want it? Do you like it? If you dont want it, then youll have to develop the goodness of your mind so that you can see your way out of this, so that you can see your defilements, so that you can see the suffering and harm they cause.

Look at suffering. Look at the rewards of suffering. When people feel that we dont have much suffering, they find more suffering for us. Even just the five aggregates provide us with more than enough suffering -- the suffering we have just on our own. So when they talk about the happiness of taking on another person, exactly what happiness is there? Nothing but more suffering. "Treasures" that bring you suffering. Our parents want us to get married, to have a spouse and a family. Theyve had plenty of suffering raising us, and yet its not enough. How many children has your mother carried around in her womb? And now shes looking for more suffering for her children.

Student: Than Phaw, is it true what they say, that a woman gains of lot of merit in having a child, in that she gives someone else the chance to be born?

Ajaan Fuang: If that were true, then dogs would get gobs of merit, giving birth to whole litters at a time. No, thats just propaganda from those who want to see more and more beings getting born in this world.

Student: When people want to get married, its because they have a lot of bad karma with each other. Isnt that right?

Ajaan Fuang: Of course thats right. Just look at what theyre doing. Theres no need to explain. Its nothing but imposing on each other, causing each other affliction, and pain. Theres no real happiness there; nothing but suffering. Getting married is no way to escape suffering. Actually, all you do is pile more suffering on yourself. The Buddha taught that the five aggregates are a heavy burden, but if you get married, all of a sudden you have ten to worry about, and then fifteen, and then twenty. And thats not the end of the matter. As soon as a child is born, it comes down with this, and then comes down with that. Its not the case that from the moment it pops out it doesnt need to take medicine that we can just leave it alone and itll grow day and night. Oh, all the things you have to do for it until it"s grown! It starts out so small and can only lie there. Then think of what it needs until it can sit up, and then what it needs until it can stand, and then what it needs until it can walk. When was it ever an easy thing, raising a child? And thats not all. As soon as you want to lie down for a little rest, it cries. You lie down for a little bit and it cries. Theres nothing wonderful about it at all.

When people pressure you to get married and have children, its like someone who walks along and steps in a pile of excrement and then tries to figure out how to get other people to step in it, too, to make up for his own mistake. Yes, its karma that makes people want to get married. Karma is what obscures their vision. They cant see that what they want is a form of suffering. To them its something wonderful -- because thats the best they know. The best they have. They dont know anything better than that.

When your parents want you to get married, its because thats all they know. Get them to meditate, and then theyll realize: "Oh! What weve been through is suffering!" To see this sort of thing, though, you have to meditate. If you dont meditate, you wont see. If you dont meditate, youll have to see things the way they do. Even when you do meditate, you still see things the way they do. Its not easy to pull yourself out of that way of thinking. Its not easy at all. If the power of this defilement wont surrender... Only when your views are straight and you really let go: only then will you be done with the matter.

Even the devas in heaven: theyre still satisfied with their sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations. Theyre still satisfied with what theyve got. Theyre infatuated with the way they look, sound, and smell, infatuated with their companions. Theyre tied down to sensuality, hand and foot, which is why it disturbs them when we meditate. Theyre afraid well get away. Theyre determined not to let it happen. When we meditate and our minds grow still, they come and attack, stirring us up so that we start turning back in our tracks, so that we dont see the right path to release from suffering. This is called karma that keeps us in the round of samsara, the karma we do that makes us fall in line with everyone else, so that we dont see the path to release from suffering. All we can see is the path to staying stuck, staying stuck in suffering.

Student: In that case, then, when you think youve found your mate, youve really found someone who holds some of your old karma debts.

Ajaan Fuang: What else did you think? Its like horseshoe crabs. Have you ever seen them? They live in the sea. Even they have their mates. Everywhere they go, they go in pairs. The male doesnt know how to feed itself, so it rides on the back of the female.

Student: So how can we escape this? We can avoid this, cant we, Than Phaw, if we really want to?

Ajaan Fuang: If you dont want this sort of thing, then dont let any horseshoe crabs catch hold of you. After all, its just an animal instinct. Animals have to mate in order to spread their species, their influence. But if we dont want to have a part in that, we just dont get involved. Your mate can demand repayment on your old karma debts only if you get involved.

Student: Can you really escape?

Ajaan Fuang: Why shouldnt you be able to escape? Just dont get involved, dont get attached. Try to keep your mind strong and dont waver. Develop your perfections so that theyre greater and greater, and these other desires will just wither away. Theyre really shallow, you know, and nothing but suffering. They come about because were attracted to our own bodies, but when you get an image of yourself in meditation, just take it apart. Take it apart, and then whats left? Anything? Nothing at all. Its all in the form. When you take the form apart, theres nothing left. And what substance is there in the form? Look at it. Take it apart. Theres nothing but earth, water, wind, and fire. Is there anything to be attracted to then?

Student: No, nothing.

Ajaan Fuang: And when youre sound asleep. Does the body know anything of desire?

Student: No, not at all.

Ajaan Fuang: The mind is the instigator. The body on its own doesnt have anything to do. It simply acts under the orders of its boss: the mind. The body doesnt know a thing. It depends on the boss orders. So when the boss says, "Enough! No more!" then thats the end of the matter. The mind doesnt struggle or thirst. What struggles and thirsts is the aggregate of fabrication (Sankhara). If you latch on to fabrication, thats the essence of suffering -- suffering in a big way. If you look at the body, youll see that there really are no issues there. The issues all come from fabrication. If the mind can break through and understand this attachment to the body, then where else will desire come from?

The body isnt really ours. Wherever you see anything thats "yours," uproot it, take it apart, and let it go. Take it apart: the earth, the water, the wind, and the fire. Thats all theres been to it, all along, since who knows when. Thats all there is to it now. The problem is that weve been deluded about it and so weve latched onto it. Weve been deluded just like everyone else. Deep down, doesnt the mind already know this? Of course it knows, for thats the nature of the mind: to know. We have to know. So bring this knowledge in and take it to heart. You have to be your own refuge, you know. If youre the sort that has to take refuge in other people, then youll have to see things the same way they do, which means you have to be stupid the same way they are. So pull yourself out of all that and take a good look at yourself until things are clear within you. Keep contemplating things until theres just the "knower" inside. This knower isnt paired with anything else. It doesnt have a mate. Its single. Its one. It doesnt have anything. So focus in on the knower and make it one. Get so that it lets go of everything. It lets go of pleasure, lets go of pain, and lets go of equanimity. Its bright, all on its own. Keep focused there until theres nothing left but a state of oneness. Then ask yourself: is it male or female? Theres no "male" or "female" in there at all. It doesnt place labels on anything. And when youve gotten there, thats the end of those issues.

Those who get stuck on mental phenomena are called Brahmas. Once they reach this point in their practice... The devas in their heavens still have their mates, but the Brahmas have no interest in sights, smells, sounds, tastes, tactile sensations. Theyre content in their oneness...

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