My stay here has been very pleasant. Both the Master
and you, his followers, have been very kind, all friendly and
smiling, as befits those who are practicing the true Dhamma. Your
property, too, is very inspiring, but so big! I admire your
dedication in renovating it to establish a place for practicing the
Having been a teacher for many years now, I've been
through my share of difficulties. At present there are altogether
about forty branch monasteries 
of my monastery, Wat Nong Ba Pong, but even these days I have
followers who are hard to teach. Some know but don't bother to
practice, some don't know and don't try to find out. I don't know
what to do with them. Why do human beings have minds like this?
Being ignorant is not so good, but even when I tell them, they still
don't listen. I don't know what more I can do. People are so full of
doubts in their practice, they're always doubting. They all want to
go to nibbana, but they don't want to walk the path. It's
baffling. When I tell them to meditate they're afraid, or if not
afraid then just plain sleepy. Mostly they like to do the things I
don't teach. When I met the Venerable Abbot here I asked him what
his followers were like. He said they're the same. This is the pain
of being a teacher.
The teaching I will present to you today is a way to
solve problems in the present moment, in this present life. Some
people say that they have so much work to do they have no time to
practice the Dhamma. "What can we do?" they ask. I ask them, "Don't
you breathe while you're working?" "Yes, of course we breathe!" "So
how come you have time to breathe when you're so busy?" They don't
know what to answer. "If you simply have sati while working
you will have plenty of time to practice."
Practicing meditation is just like breathing. While
working we breathe, while sleeping we breathe, while sitting down we
breathe... Why do we have time to breathe? Because we see the
importance of the breath, we can always find time to breathe. In the
same way, if we see the importance of meditation practice we will
find the time to practice.
Have any of you ever suffered? ... have you ever been
happy?... Right here is the truth, this is where you must practice
the Dhamma. Who is it who is happy? The mind is happy. who suffers?
The mind suffers. Wherever these things arise, that's where they
cease. Have you experienced happiness? ... Have you experienced
suffering? ... this is our problem. If we know suffering, 
the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and the way leading to
the end of suffering we can solve the problem.
There are two kinds of suffering: ordinary suffering
and the extraordinary kind. Ordinary suffering is the suffering
which is the inherent nature of conditions: standing is suffering,
sitting is suffering, lying down is suffering. This is the suffering
that is inherent in all conditioned phenomena. Even the Buddha
experienced these things, he experienced comfort and pain, but he
recognized them as conditions in nature. He knew how to overcome
these ordinary, natural feelings of comfort and pain through
understanding their true nature. Because he understood this "natural
suffering" those feelings didn't upset him.
The important kind of suffering is the second kind,
the suffering that creeps in from the outside, the "extraordinary
suffering." If we are sick we may have to get an injection from the
doctor. When the needle pierces the skin there is some pain which is
only natural. When the needle is withdrawn that pain disappears.
This is like the ordinary kind of suffering, it's no problem,
everybody experiences it. The extraordinary suffering is the
suffering that arises from what we call upadana, grasping
onto things. This is like having an injection with a syringe filled
with poison. This is no longer an ordinary kind of pain, it is the
pain which ends in death. This is similar to the suffering which
arises from grasping.
Wrong view, not knowing the impermanent nature of all
conditioned things, is another kind of problem. Conditioned things
are the realm of samsara. 
Not wanting things to change -- if we think like this we must
suffer. When we think that the body is ourselves or belonging to us,
we are afraid when we see it change. Consider the breath: once it
comes in it must go out, having gone out it must come in again. This
is its nature, this is how we manage to live. Things don't function
in that way. This is how conditions are but we don't realize it.
Suppose we lost something. if we thought that object
was really ours, we would brood over it. If we couldn't see it as a
conditioned thing faring according to the laws of nature we would
experience suffering. But if you breathe in, can you live?
Conditioned things must naturally change in this way. To see this is
to see the Dhamma, to see aniccam, change. We live dependent
on this change. When we know how things are then we can let go of
The practice of Dhamma is to develop an understanding
of the way of things so that suffering doesn't arise. If we think
wrongly we are at odds with the world, at odds with the Dhamma and
with the truth. Suppose you were sick and had to go into hospital.
Most people think, "Please don't let me die, I want to get better."
This is wrong thinking, it will lead to suffering. You have to think
to yourself, "If I recover I recover, if I die I die." this is right
thinking, because you can't ultimately control conditions. If you
think like this, whether you die or recover, you can't go wrong, you
don't have to worry. Wanting to get better at all costs and afraid
of the thought of dying...this is the mind which doesn't understand
conditions. You should think, "If I get better that's fine, if I
don't get better that's fine." This way we can't go wrong, we don't
have to be afraid or cry, because we have tuned ourselves in to the
way things are.
The Buddha saw clearly. His teaching is always
relevant, never out-dated. It never changes. In the present day it's
still the way they are, they haven't changed. By taking this
teaching to heart we can gain the reward of peace and well-being.
In the teachings there is the reflection of
"not-self": "this is to listen to this kind of teaching because they
are attached to the idea of self. This is the cause of suffering.
You should take note of this.
Today a woman asked about how to deal with anger. I
told her that the next time she gets angry, to wind up her alarm
clock and put it in front of her. Then to give herself two hours for
the anger to go away. If it was really her anger she could probably
tell it to go away like this: "In two hours be gone!" But it isn't
really ours to command. Sometimes in two hours it's still not gone,
at other times in one hour it's gone already. Holding onto anger as
a personal possession will cause suffering. If it really belonged to
us it would have to obey us. If it doesn't obey us that means it's
only a deception. Don't fall for it. Whether the mind is happy or
sad, don't fall for it. Whether the mind loves or hates, don't fall
for it, it's all a deception.
Have any of you ever been angry? When you are angry
does it feel good or bad? If it feels bad then why don't you throw
that feeling away, why bother to keep it? How can you say that you
are wise and intelligent when you hold on to such things? Since the
day you were born, how many times has the mind tricked you into
anger? Some days the mind can even cause a whole family to quarrel,
or cause you to cry all night. And yet we still continue to get
angry, we still hold onto things and suffer. If you don't see
suffering you will have to keep suffering indefinitely, with no
chance for respite. The world of samsara is like this. If we
know the way it is we can solve the problem.
The Buddha's teaching states that there is no better
means to overcome suffering than to see that "this is not my self,"
"this is not mine." This is the greatest method. But we don't
usually pay attention to this. When suffering arises we simply cry
over it without learning from it. Why is that so? We must take a
good hard look at these things, to develop the Buddho, the one who
Take note, some of you may not be aware that this is
Dhamma teaching. I'm going to give you some Dhamma that's outside
the scriptures. Most people read the scriptures but don't see the
Dhamma. Today I am going to give you a teaching that's outside the
scriptures. Some people may miss the point or not understand it.
Suppose two people are walking together and see a duck
and a chicken. One of them says, "Why isn't that chicken like the
duck, why isn't the duck like the chicken?" He wants the chicken to
be a duck and the duck to be a chicken. It's impossible. If it's
impossible, then even if that person were to wish for the duck to be
a chicken and the chicken to be a duck for the rest of his life it
would not come to pass, because the chicken is a chicken and the
duck is a duck. As long as that person thought like that he would
suffer. The other person might see that the chicken is a chicken and
the duck is a duck, and that's all there is to it. There is no
problem. He sees rightly. If you want the duck to be a chicken and
the chicken to be a duck you are really going to suffer.
In the same way, the law of aniccam states that
all things are impermanent. If you want things to be permanent
you're going to suffer. Whenever impermanence shows itself you're
going to be disappointed. One who sees that things are naturally
impermanent will be at ease, there will be no conflict. The one who
wants things to be permanent is going to have conflict, maybe even
losing sleep over it. This is to be ignorant of aniccam,
impermanence, the teaching if the Buddha.
If you want to know the Dhamma where should you look?
You must look within the body and the mind. You won't find it in the
shelves of a bookcase. To really see the Dhamma you have to look
within your own body and mind. There are only these two things. The
mind is not visible to the physical eye, it must be seen with the
"mind's eye." Before the Dhamma can be realized you must know where
to look. The Dhamma that is in the body must be seen in the body.
And with what do we look at the body? We look at the body with the
mind. You won't find the Dhamma looking anywhere else, because both
happiness and suffering arise right here. Or have you seen happiness
arising in the trees? Or from the rivers, or the weather? Happiness
and suffering are feelings which arise in our own bodies and minds.
Therefore the Buddha tells us to know the Dhamma right
here. The Dhamma is right here, we must look right here. The Master
may tell you to look at the Dhamma in the books, but if you think
that this is where the Dhamma really is, you'll never see it. Having
looked at the books you must reflect on those teachings inwardly.
Then you can understand the Dhamma. Where does the real Dhamma
exist? It exists right here in this body and mind of ours. This is
the essence of contemplation practice.
When we do this, wisdom will arise in our minds. When
there is wisdom in our minds, then no matter where we look there is
Dhamma, we will see aniccam, dukkham, and
anatta at all times. Aniccam means transient.
Dukkham -- if we cling to the things that are transient we
must suffer, because they are not us or ours (anatta). But we
don't see this, we always see them as being our self and belonging
This means that you don't see the truth of convention.
You should understand conventions. For example, all of us sitting
here have names. Are our names born with us or are they assigned to
us afterwards? Do you understand? This is convention. Is convention
useful? Of course it's useful. For example, suppose there are four
men, A, B, C, and D. They all must have their individual names for
convenience in communicating and working together. If we wanted to
speak to Mr. A we could call Mr. A and he would come, not the
others. This is the convenience of convention. But when we look
deeply into the matter we will see that really there isn't anybody
there. We will see transcendence. There is only earth, water, wind
and fire, the four elements. This is all there is to this body of
But we don't see it in this way because of the
clinging power of Attavadupadana. 
If we were to look clearly we would see that there isn't really much
to what we call a person. The solid part is the earth element, the
fluid part is the water element, the part which provides heat is
called the fire element. When we break things down we see that there
is only earth, water, wind and fire. Where is the person to be
found? There isn't one.
That's why the Buddha taught that there is no higher
practice than to see that "this is not my self and does not belong
to me" They are simply conventions. If we understand everything
clearly in this way we will be at peace. If we realize in the
present moment the truth of impermanence, that things are not our
self or belonging to us, then when they disintegrate we are at peace
with them, because they don't belong to anybody anyway. They are
merely the elements of earth, water, wind and fire.
It's difficult for people to see this, but even so
it's not beyond our ability. If we can see this we will find
contentment, we will not have so much anger, greed or delusion.
There will always be Dhamma in our hearts. There will be no need for
jealousy and spite, because everybody is simply earth, water, wind
and fire. There's nothing more to them than this. When we accept
this truth we will see the truth of the Buddha's teaching.
If we could see the truth of the Buddha's teaching we
wouldn't have to use up so many teachers! It wouldn't be necessary
to listen to teachings everyday. When we understand then we simply
do what's required of us. But what makes people so difficult to
teach is that they don't accept the teaching and argue with the
teachers and the teaching. In front of the teacher they behave a
little better, but behind his back they become thieves! People are
really difficult to teach. The people in Thailand are like this,
that's why they have to have so many teachers.
Be careful, if you're not careful you won't see the
Dhamma. You must be circumspect, taking the teaching and considering
it well. Is this flower pretty?...Do you see the ugliness within
this flower?...For how many days will it be pretty?...What will it
be like from now on?...Why does it change so?...In three or four
days you have to take it and throw it away, right? It loses all its
beauty. People are attached to beauty, attached to goodness. If
anything is good they just fall for it completely. The Buddha tells
us to look at pretty things as just pretty, we shouldn't become
attached to them. If there is a pleasant feeling we shouldn't fall
for it. Goodness is not a sure thing, beauty is not a sure thing.
Nothing is certain. There is nothing in this world that is a
certainty. This is the truth. The things that aren't true are the
things that change, such as beauty. The only truth it has is in its
constant changing. If we believe that things are beautiful, when
their beauty fades our mind loses its beauty too. When things are no
longer good our mind loses its goodness too. When they are destroyed
or damaged we suffer because we have clung to them as being our own.
The Buddha tells us to see that these things are simply constructs
of nature. Beauty appears and in not many days it fades. To see this
is to have wisdom.
Therefore we should see impermanence. If we think
something is pretty we should tell ourselves it isn't, if we think
something is ugly we should tell ourselves it isn't. Try to see
things in this way, constantly reflect in this way. We will see the
truth within untrue things, see the certainty within the things that
Today I have been explaining the way to understand
suffering, what causes suffering, the cessation of suffering and the
way leading to the cessation of suffering. When you know suffering
you should throw it out. Knowing the cause of suffering you should
throw it out. Practice to see the cessation of suffering. See
aniccam, dukkham and anatta and suffering will cease.
When suffering ceases where do we go? What are we
practicing for? We are practicing to relinquish, not in order to
gain anything. There was a woman this afternoon who told me that she
is suffering. I asked her what she wants to be, and she said she
wants to be enlightened. I said, "As long as you want to be
enlightened you will never become enlightened. Don't want anything."
When we know the truth of suffering we throw out
suffering. When we know the cause of suffering then we don't create
those causes, but instead practice to bring suffering to its
cessation. The practice leading to the cessation of suffering is to
see that "this is not a self," "this is not me or them." Seeing in
this way enables suffering to cease. It's like reaching our
destination and stopping. That's cessation. That's getting close to
nibbana. To put it another way, going forward is suffering,
retreating is suffering and stopping is suffering. Not going
forward, not retreating and not stopping...is anything left? Body
and mind cease here. This is the cessation of suffering. Hard to
understand, isn't it? If we diligently and consistently study this
teaching we will transcend things and reach understanding, there
will be cessation. This is the ultimate teaching of the Buddha, it's
the finishing point. The Buddha's teaching finishes at the point of
Today I offer this teaching to you all and to the
Venerable Master also. If there is anything wrong in it I ask your
forgiveness. But don't be in a hurry to judge whether it is right or
wrong, just listen to it first. If I were to give you all a fruit
and tell you it's delicious, you should take note of my words, but
don't believe me offhand, because you haven't tasted it yet. The
teaching I give you today is the same. If you want to know whether
the "fruit" is sweet or sour you have to slice a piece off and taste
it. Then you will know its sweetness or sourness. Then you could
believe me, because then you'd have seen for yourself. So please
don't throw this "fruit" away, keep it and taste it, know its taste
The Buddha didn't have a teacher, you know. An ascetic
once asked him who his teacher was, and the Buddha answered that he
didn't have one. 
The ascetic just walked off shaking his head. The Buddha was being
too honest. He was speaking to one who couldn't know or accept the
truth. That's why I tell you not to believe me. The Buddha said that
to simply believe others is foolish, because there is no clear
knowing within. That's why the Buddha said "I have no teacher." This
is the truth. But you should look at this is the right way. If you
misunderstand it you won't respect your teacher. Don't go saying "I
have no teacher." You must rely on your teacher to tell you what is
right and wrong, and then you must practice accordingly.
Today is a fortunate day for all of us. I have had a
chance to meet with all of you and the venerable teacher. You
wouldn't think that we could meet like this because we live so far
apart. I think there must be some special reason that we have been
able to meet in this way. The Buddha taught that everything that
arises must have a cause. Don't forget this. There must be some
cause. Perhaps in a previous existence we were brothers and sisters
in the same family. It's possible. Another teacher didn't come, but
I did. Why is that? Perhaps we are creating the causes in the
present moment itself. This is also possible.
I leave you all with this teaching. May you be
diligent and arduous in the practice. There is nothing better than
the practice of Dhamma, Dhamma is the supporter of the whole world.
People are confused these days because they do not know the Dhamma.
If we have the Dhamma with us we will be content. I am happy to have
had this opportunity to help you and the venerable teacher in
developing the practice of Dhamma. I leave you with my heartfelt
good wishes. Tomorrow I will be leaving, I'm not sure where for.
This is only natural. When there is coming there must be going, when
there is going there must be coming. This is how the world is. We
shouldn't be overjoyed or upset by the changes in the world. There
is happiness and then there is suffering; there is suffering and
then there is happiness; there is gain and then there is loss; there
is loss and then there is gain. This is the way things are.
In the Buddha's time there were disciples of the
Buddha who didn't like him, because the Buddha exhorted them to be
diligent, to be heedful. those who were lazy were afraid of the
Buddha and resented him. When he died, one group of disciples cried
and were distressed that they would no longer have the Buddha to
guide them. These ones were still not clever. Another group of
disciples were pleased and relieved that they would no longer have
the Buddha on their backs telling them what to do. A third group of
disciples were equanimous. They reflected that what arises passes
away as a natural consequence. There were these three groups. Which
group do you identify with? Do you want to be one of the pleased
ones or what? The group of disciples who cried when the Buddha
passed away had not yet realized the Dhamma. The second group were
those who resented the Buddha. He was always forbidding them from
doing the things they wanted to do. They lived in fear of the
Buddha's scorn and reprimands, so when he passed away they were
These days things aren't much different. It's possible
that the teacher here has some followers who are resentful towards
him. They might not show it outwardly but it's there in the mind.
It's normal for people who still have defilements to feel this way.
Even the Buddha had people hating him. I myself have followers who
resent me also. I tell them to give up evil actions but they cherish
their evil actions. So they hate me. There are plenty like this. May
all of you who are intelligent make yourselves firm in the practice
7. At the time of printing this book (1992),
there are about one hundred branch monasteries, big and small, of
Wat Nong Ba Pong.
8. Dukkha: "Suffering" is a most inadequate
translation, but it is the one most commonly found. "Dukkha"
literally means "intolerable," "unsustainable," "difficult to
endure," and can also mean "imperfect," "unsatisfying," or
"incapable of providing perfect happiness." 9.
Samsara: The world of delusion.
10. One of the Four Bases of Clinging:
Kamupadana, clinging to sense objects;
silabbatupadana: clinging to rites and rituals;
ditthupadana: clinging to views, and attavadupadana,
clinging to the idea of self.
11. Soon after his enlightenment, the Buddha
was walking on his way to Benares and was approached by a wandering
ascetic, who said, "Your features are clear, friend, your bearing
serene ... who is your teacher?" The Buddha answered that there was
no-one in this world who could claim to be his teacher, because he
was completely self-enlightened. The Brahmin could not understand
his answer, and walked off, muttering, "Well, good for you, friend,
good for you."