Against the Stream of Thought
The Teaching of Luangpor Teean
by Anchalee Thaiyanond
I first became interested in Luangpor Teean ‘s teaching through reading a book of his talks in Thai. This interest led me to practise in accordance with the teaching. Having been very satisfied with my practice, I would like to make this teaching available to those who cannot read Thai, and so I am printing this book as a gift of Dhamma.
Talks printed in three Thai books have been edited together to construct this booklet. The editing has been done in order to extract the essence of this teaching.
Anchalee Thaiyanond August 1989
Against the Stream of Thought
The teachings of all the teachers in the world are like the leaves in the whole forest. But there are very few that we can use as medicine. Don’t take the whole tree, including root and stem. When you practise meditation or insight, you should take only things that will not let suffering occur in your mind, that can extinguish suffering at its source, can destroy delusion. You should take only the most important part of the teaching. The heart of the teaching I am talking about is to be aware of oneself, to have the mind steady, to have complete knowing. When thought arises, you should see it, know it, understand it in every manner, and know how to prevent it from deceiving you. According to the Lord Buddha ‘s teaching, there are many procedures to cure suffering. You should choose one of them with mindfulness and wisdom.
What you should understand in practising Dhamma is “calmness”. If you misunderstand you will waste your time and will not make any progress. There are two kinds of calmness:
1. Concentration (samatha practice) is calmness without liberating knowledge. It is calmness under the power of delusion.
2. Insight (vipassana practice) is calmness that you clearly know, really know, clearly see and really see. You can practise this kind of meditation while you are working, sitting, eating, whatever you are doing. You don’t have to stay still, but should know the movement of body and mind every moment. When the body moves, feel it; when the mind moves, know it. The movement of mind is thought. As soon as thought arises, you should know it, understand it, and manage to conquer it. Do the continuous practice until you achieve total awareness: you will have the knowledge that liberates. You will see, you will know, you will understand. Practising correctly means seeing, knowing, understanding by and in yourself, a knowledge and understanding that cannot come from anyone else. When you practise correctly the not-knowing just disappears while the knowledge that liberates appears in its place; stupidity disappears and wisdom will immediately replace it; darkness and unhappiness disappear while brightness and calmness will be there instead.
Let us practise the developing of awareness until it is completed: anger, delusion and greed will be gone, but you will still have feeling, perception, conceiving, and knowing, and these will be free from suffering. You will have the life that is normal. You can work, eat, walk, sit, and sleep, just as common people do, no matter what your age or sex or social role.
Everybody has a mind that is clean, illuminated and calm. It’s just a matter of whether you will study to the point of detachment or not. The only way to detach yourself is to develop the awareness and consciousness. You will be free from anger, delusion and greed, free from defilement, craving, attachment and all action.
Part 1: Method of Practice
There must be proper technique and right understanding in practice.
The technique is to do the rhythmic practice, rub the fingers, walk back and forth. This is a technique that has been developed in order that the body not stay still; you can practise the developing of awareness continuously and clearly while your body is moving.
a) You should understand that awareness means only feeling or knowing, not more than that, not anything additional to that. (You don’t have to be aware that you are walking, inhaling, exhaling: that is wrong. Just feel it: that’s enough, that’s all.) Be aware of the movement of body and mind. When thought arises, know it; when the body moves, feel it.
b) You should understand when anything arises: just feel it or know it and let it pass away. You don’t have to know whether it is greed or anger: that is not necessary. You should only feel it and let it go away. For example, when the wind blows be aware of the feeling, you don’t need to know the name of it; even to know that it’s the wind seems to be more than enough. Just to feel the change from the normality (when there is no wind) is enough. You don’t have to name it, or you will be confused.
Developing the awareness by doing the rhythmic practice, you should not pay strong attention to the feeling; take it easy, do not be too serious. That is why both the proper technique and right understanding of how to practise are necessary. If you only know the technique but misunderstand the way of practice, there will be no result. If you understand the way of practice very well, but have no technique, there will be no result either. So to practise the developing of awareness there must be both proper technique and good understanding.
1. You have to do it (developing the awareness) by yourself until you know it, see it, understand it, and discover it in your body and mind.
2. There must be the proper technique and right understanding.
3. Don’t stay still; you should move all the time.
4. Practise intensively using the technique without any demands or expectations. The result will come by itself.
The Rhythmic Practice
1. Rest the hands, palm down, on the thighs
2. Turn the right hand onto its edge, aware, and stop.
3. Raise the right hand, aware, and stop.
4. Lower the right hand to rest on the abdomen, aware, and stop.
5. Turn the left hand onto its edge, aware, and stop.
6. Raise the left hand, aware, and stop.
7. Lower the left hand to rest on the abdomen, aware, and stop.
8. Move the right hand up to rest on the chest, aware, and stop.
9. Move the right hand out, aware, and stop.
10. Lower the right hand to the thigh, aware, and stop.
11. Turn the right hand down, aware, and stop.
12. Move the left hand up to rest on the chest, aware, and stop.
13. Move the left hand out, aware, and stop.
14. Lower the left hand to the thigh, aware, and stop.
15. Turn the left hand down, aware, and stop. And repeat this cycle of movements again and again.
Part 2: Knowledge from Developing Awareness
You should practise the developing of awareness until you have more and more awareness (sati), more and more steadiness of mind (samadhi); the knowledge that liberates (panna) will arise. You will know the truth within yourself, not outside.
First, you know yourself to be rupa-nama: the mind feeling / knowing the body’s movements.
You know action of the body and action of the mind. Action of the body is, for example, standing, walking, sitting, lying. Action of the mind is, for example, thought and feeling.
You know disease of the body, disease of the mind. Disease of the body is headache, stomachache, and so on. Disease of the mind is thought, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and soon.
After knowing rupa-nama, you know and understand dukkha, anicca, anatta (the three universal characteristics of being).
Dukkha is with the body, which is a kind of lump of dukkha. Dukkha means the unbearability of non-movement or unchangingness. Anicca means unstable. Anatta means uncontrollable. It’s like that all the time.
Now you come to know supposing (sammuti). Know all kinds of supposing completely; for example, you know that money is just a kind of metal or paper that’s supposed to be valuable. The knowing is awareness, steadiness of mind, knowledge that liberates. Sacca means truth.
If it’s true by supposing (sammuti), you know it. If it’s true by touching with the mind (paramattha), you know it. Ghosts, deities, hell, heaven, demerit, merit are true by supposing and true by touching with the mind (samrnuti-paramattha).
Then you know religion; religion does not mean temples, but means a refuge. Buddha means one who has awakened from delusion, who has liberating knowledge. So Buddhism means a fertile refuge, with awareness and liberating knowledge, that exists in each person who is aware of him- or herself, who has the mind steady, and who has liberating knowledge. Or one who has a clean, illuminated and calm mind.
If you only study, but never practise the developing of awareness, that is only to memorize, not to see clearly or to see really. When you know, see and understand supposing completely, you don’t attach to supposing anymore. The knowledge that arises from developing awareness is truth or insight.
Next you know nama-rupa: the mind knowing the arising of thought. Keep on developing the awareness. When thought arises, you should see it, know it and understand it, but don’t “stare” at it, and don’t stop developing the awareness. When you see it, thought will become shorter and shorter.
At this point, you know vatthu-paramattha- ankara. Vatthu means the object that exists. Paramattha means seeing it, being it right now in front of you, touching with the mind. Akara means changingness. Knowing vatthu-paramattha-ankara means you are touching the changing object with the mind.
When you clearly comprehend it, then you see, know, understand, and touch anger, delusion and greed, because they are vatthu-paramattha-ankara. After knowing this, the mind will be very cheerful, and can see feeling, perception, conceiving and knowing that do not suffer: this is the pure life. There will arise rapture (Piti). The mind changes from one stage to another. When knowing arises, the not-knowing disappears immediately. continue the practice; do not attach to rapture. When knowing arises, awareness (sati) will be reduced, not full like the previous stage. When knowing arises, it is never forgotten from then on.
Continue the practice, and know the movement more and more: the liberating knowledge will occur by itself. You will know, see and understand defilement, craving, attachment, and action; seeing clearly and understanding really, defilement, craving, attachment, and action will reduce or fade away. When liberating knowledge arises, you will have confidence in your own knowledge. When you know this point, rapture will occur again. Be careful and don’t attach to it.
Continue the practice and you will know and understand sila (moral conduct), silakkhandha, samiidhikkhandha, pafifiii- kkhandha. The knowledge arises that sila means nonnality of body, speech, and mind: neutrality; khandha means container of, category. Silakkhandha means container of normality of body, speech, and mind. Samiidhikkhandha means container of the steady mind. Pafifiiikkhandha means container of the liberating knowledge.
Sila (nonnality) occurs when crude defilement comes to an end. Crude defilements are anger, delusion, greed, defilement, craving, attachment, and action. That is why we say that sila keeps us nonnal, so we don’t have to separately keep ethical precepts.
Samadhi is the tool to get rid of median defilement: attaching to samatha calmness is kiimiisava (under the control of attachment), bhaviisava (under the control of being or suffering), avijjiisava (under the control of not- knowing).
Panna is the tool to get rid of subtle defilement: the not-knowing.
After knowing and understanding sila, silakkhandha, samadhikkhandha, pannakkhandha, you will know and understand that there are two kinds of calmness.
1. Concentration (samatha calmness) is calmness without liberating knowledge.
2. Insight (vipassana calmness) is calm- ness that you clearly know, really know, clearly see and really see. Because of the developing of awareness, calmness will arise by itself, because it is already there. You do not have to create it. It’s the calmness of freedom from anger, delusion, greed. When anything happens to you, the awareness will come immediately. Because the awareness, the steady mind, the liberating knowledge are already there, that’s why anger, delusion, greed can- not come. If you don’t develop awareness, and don’t make this thing occur, you will not have it, even though it is already there.
After that, you will know and understand merit and demerit. If there really is a hell, you’ll know into which level you will fall for any bad action: bodily action, verbal action, mental action, and for any bad bodily, verbal and mental actions together.
For good action, you will know how it is meritorious. If here really is a heaven, you’ll know to which level you will go for any good action: bodily action, verbal action, mental action, and for any good bodily, verbal and mental actions together.
When you come to the end of the object of this method of developing awareness, you will come to the end of dukkha (unbearability, suffering). You will know, you will see, you will understand, and you will have no doubt anymore. The mind will change for the last time. There will be only a clean, illuminated and calm mind, a mind with equanimity.
That person will dwell the rest of their life with total awareness and knowledge that liberates, because the not-knowing is not there anymore. But one still has feeling, perception, conceiving and knowing that do not suffer. One clearly knows, really knows, clearly sees and really sees the truth as it is.
Afterword: In Gratitude to Luangpor Teean
I first knew of Luangpor Teean through reading a book containing a collection of his Dhamma talks, “Sawang Tee Klang Jai” (“Brightness in the Mind”). This was the first time that I began to read a book about Buddhism and did not want to stop reading, a book about Buddhism that I found hard to put down. Subsequently, I read all the books of Luangpor’s talks that I was able to find.
Once I had faith in his teaching, I decided to practise Luangpor Teean ‘s dynamic form of meditation. At first I practised by myself, using the books for guidance, but my practice was not successful because 1 did not understand the technique correctly. Therefore I went to see Luangpor Teean, who was staying at that time, October 1985, at Wat Sanamnai, on the outskirts of Bangkok. After he explained how his method was to be practised-to maintain the knowing continuously – I began the rhythmic practice on the porch of his cottage. Luangpor stayed nearby all through my time of practice, He urged me to be continuously aware of the movements of the body. After one hour of practice, he questioned me to check my knowledge about body-mind (rupa-nama). I could clearly understand body-mind, action of body and action of mind, disease of body and disease of mind, and also the three characteristics of existence (dukkha-anicca-anatta), supposition (sammuti), religion, Buddhism, ghosts, deities, hell, heaven, demerit and merit. Then Luangpor asked me to stop practising and told me about “vipassanu” — knowing outside oneself endlessly, forgetting oneself in the process.
I very much appreciated what Luangpor Teean had so kindly shown me-the way to the ending of suffering. He had made available to me a new life, which was to be mine from then on. He never asked me to stay at Wat Sanamnai, but on the contrary indicated that I should develop my practice of this dynamic form of meditation in my daily life at home. I followed his suggestions strictly, which was good for my practice because having never practised meditation before I never fell away from the true path. Every time I had knowledge arise by and within myself I noted down the date, and when I would tell Luangpor what I had come to see and know he would merely nod and tell me to continue the practice. He would never answer any questions I asked him about Dhamma, but would say, “you will know it by yourself – continue your practice”. I always listened to and obeyed him.
Now I can attest to the truth of Luangpor Teean’s teaching. Before I met him, I had never been interested in religion, in making merit, in keeping precepts. Luangpor Teean led me to know, see and understand my life and my mind. Since he was one who knew truly, one with knowledge and wisdom of the very deepest and sharpest, we who met and knew him were very fortunate. We cannot know when a person like this will again appear in the world.
Everybody who really knew Luangpor Teean would agree with me. There was nothing special about his appearance, and in the eyes of people in general he seemed to be just an ordinary monk, but although his manner was pleasant and his ways easy-going he had a goal that was very firm. He had supreme knowledge, and the greatest skill in teaching, showing us the most direct and easiest way to the most difficult realization. As he was one who knew clearly and really, his Dhamma talks issued not from books but from his own direct knowledge. The talks were very deep and sharp, and attracted and interested many people, though some people could not accept what he had to say and reacted to him negatively, failing to see his honesty and sincerity. Out of kindness to fellow humans, Luangpor Teean explained the truth he had discovered from his own experience, so that others would not waste their time, misunderstand, and practise in a wrong way. His kindness to us was as immense as the sky that covers the earth.
The practice of meditation was the thing that most interested Luangpor Teean. He paid close attention to his students’ practice, following them closely, and was there when they had problems with their practice. He did not worry about his own health, despite its inexorable deterioration. I wanted him to take more rest, and asked him not to travel so much as it made him tired and weak, but Luangpor answered: “1 do not have much time left. I have to work hard.” His work was teaching. Every- one who was close to him knew that Luangpor never changed his mind once he had decided to do something. He wanted to give an opportunity to people everywhere, irrespective of nationality, sex or age, to know the truth that he had discovered for himself. He wanted all of us to understand that the calmness we are looking for is not far away – if we just look into ourselves, just study ourselves, we will find real happiness and calmness.
Luangpor Teean was a true disciple of the Lord Buddha, one with the same mind, the same normality and same view as the Lord Buddha. He was the monk that my family respected most highly. His talks were reasonable and irrefutable, and he challenged us with his own life to discover for ourselves the truth or otherwise of what he had to say. Many people, myself included, came to prove for ourselves the truth of his teaching. From the time he knew true Dhamma, Luangpor Teean devoted the rest of his life to teaching others, and he came to be known among practitioners of Dhamma as “the outstanding master of the developing of awareness (sati)”.
People who have never practised any kind of meditation and have no special commitment to the teaching as found in the Buddhist scriptures, such people, having no attachment and not holding onto the things of the past, can make quick progress. But those who have practised concentration will have become accustomed to the method of concentrating. Luangpor Teean always told his students not to concentrate, but to be aware of the movements of the body and of thought. He taught this because awareness is the most important thing: it leads us to have sila, samadhi, panna.
We should develop awareness continuously. When we have complete continuous sati it will become satipatthana (the four foundations of awareness: kayanupassana, vedananupassana, cittanupassana, dhammanupassana) and we will discover the state that is called absolute spontaneity, autonomy. We will have panna – knowing, seeing, understanding: the knowledge that liberates.
We should practise until we know and see the body and mind continuously. When we know and understand truth more and more, piti (rapture) will arise. Don’t pay attention to it! Don’t stop, but continue practising awareness, otherwise piti will become a big problem that will prevent you from reaching the destination. This kind of rapture is called “jinta-nana”: false, deceptive knowledge. When you practise to the end of the path, piti will arise again-this final piti is called vipalasa. This kind of rapture is very dangerous. You may fall into “meditation-derangement”, deluded into believing that you are an extraordinary person, and you will become disorientated and unaware of yourself. The practitioner should be very careful and should never forget the danger of attaching to rapture. Just know it, see it, understand it, in the same way as you see thought, and continue developing awareness. Always be with the awareness and you will be safe.
You should practise without any expectations of achievement, without any imaginings. You should be diligent in practising continuously and properly, but do not be too serious in your practice since that is not helpful. From my own experience I can guarantee that this teaching is the true Dhamma: all will know, see and understand the same thing. When your practice reaches the end you will know by yourself that it is the end. You will have no doubt anymore. The state of arising-extinction will happen to you – it is something that you never knew, something that never happened to you before. It will be sudden, not something that you expected. It happens very suddenly-it is even faster than thought. When you have encountered this state, proliferation of thought and emotion ceases: you have come to the end of suffering. The not-knowing (avijja) is not there anymore, but you will have feeling, perception, conceiving and knowing that do not suffer. You can continue your daily life, fulfilling your duties along the middle path with equanimity.
13 September 1989